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Distribution dynamics of the Tnt1 retrotransposon in tobacco


Retrotransposons contribute significantly to the size, organization and genetic diversity of plant genomes. Although many retrotransposon families have been reported in plants, to this day, the tobacco Tnt1 retrotransposon remains one of the few elements for which active transposition has been shown. Demonstration that Tnt1 activation can be induced by stress has lent support to the hypothesis that, under adverse conditions, transposition can be an important source of genetic variability. Here, we compared the insertion site preference of a collection of newly transposed and pre-existing Tnt1 copies identified in plants regenerated from protoplasts or tissue culture. We find that newly transposed Tnt1 copies are targeted within or close to host gene coding sequences and that the distribution of pre-existing insertions does not vary significantly from this trend. Therefore, in spite of their potential to disrupt neighboring genes, insertions within or near CDS are not preferentially removed with age. Elimination of Tnt1 insertions within or near coding sequences may be relaxed due to the polyploid nature of the tobacco genome. Tnt1 insertions within or near CDS are thus better tolerated and can putatively contribute to the diversification of tobacco gene function.

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We thank Dr. C. Mhiri and Dr. S.-M. Tam for critical comments on our manuscript, and Dr A. Leitch for kindly providing us with N. tomentosiformis (NIC 479/84) and N. sylvestris (TW137) accessions. This work was funded by an EEC BIOTECH program BIO4-CT96-0508 (TEBIODIV) and a Fonds Nature et Technologies du Québec fellowship to Q. H. L.

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Correspondence to Marie-Angèle Grandbastien.

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Communicated by R. Hagemann.

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Le, Q.H., Melayah, D., Bonnivard, E. et al. Distribution dynamics of the Tnt1 retrotransposon in tobacco. Mol Genet Genomics 278, 639–651 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00438-007-0281-6

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  • LTR-retrotransposon
  • Nicotiana tabacum
  • Target site
  • Stress
  • Evolution