ORF-less and reverse-transcriptase-encoding group II introns in archaebacteria, with a pattern of homing into related group II intron ORFs

RNA. 2003 Jan;9(1):14-9. doi: 10.1261/rna.2126203.


Although group II intron retroelements are prevalent in eubacteria, they have not been identified in archaebacteria in the first 10 genomes sequenced. However, the recently sequenced archael genome of Methanosarcina acetivorans contains 21 group II introns, including 7 introns that do not encode reverse transcriptase ORFs. To our knowledge, these are the first retroelements identified in archaebacteria, and the first ORF-less group II introns in bacteria. Furthermore, the insertion pattern of the introns is highly unusual. The introns appear to insert site-specifically into ORFs of other group II introns, forming nested clusters of up to four introns, but there are no flanking exons that could encode a functional protein after the introns have been spliced out.

Publication types

  • Letter

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Base Sequence
  • Introns*
  • Methanosarcina / genetics
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Open Reading Frames*
  • RNA, Archaeal
  • RNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / genetics*


  • RNA, Archaeal
  • RNA-Directed DNA Polymerase