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PIGY, a new plant envelope-class LTR retrotransposon


Plant LTR retrotransposons of the envelope class define a new branch in the Metaviridae family. They differ from other LTR retrotransposons mainly by the presence of an additional ORF downstream of the gag-pol region which has been hypothesized to be equivalent to the envelope gene of retroviruses. Here we present a newly identified element from pea (Pisum sativum), named PIGY, that has all the features characteristic of this group of LTR retrotransposons. In addition to the potential coding sequence downstream of the gag-pol region, PIGY has a primer binding site complementary to tRNAasp and a polypurine tract with a TGGGG motif and is of large size (13,645 bp). The relationship between PIGY and other retrotransposons of the env-class was confirmed by a phylogenetic analysis of their reverse transcriptase domains. One distinctive feature of PIGY is that its env-like region is actually composed of two similar ORFs, each of which encodes a protein with similarity to the Athila envelope-like protein. PIGY is present in the pea genome in 1–5×103 copies and is transcriptionally active, suggesting that some of these elements may still be capable of active transposition. Another new env-class retrotransposon similar to PIGY was also identified among genomic sequences of Medicago truncatula.

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We thank Ms. H. Štěpančíková for excellent technical assistance, Dr. M. Nouzová for help with DNA sequencing, and Ms. S. M. Rafelski for assistance in preparation of the manuscript. This work was supported by grants (Nos. 521/00/0655 and 521/02/P007) from the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic

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Correspondence to Pavel Neumann.

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Communicated by M.-A. Grandbastien

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Neumann, P., Požárková, D., Koblížková, A. et al. PIGY, a new plant envelope-class LTR retrotransposon. Mol Genet Genomics 273, 43–53 (2005).

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  • LTR retrotransposon
  • Envelope
  • Pisum sativum
  • Medicago truncatula