Identification and characterization of piggyBac-like elements in the genome of domesticated silkworm, Bombyx mori

Mol Genet Genomics. 2006 Jul;276(1):31-40. doi: 10.1007/s00438-006-0124-x. Epub 2006 May 10.


piggyBac is a short inverted terminal repeat (ITR) transposable element originally discovered in Trichoplusia ni. It is currently the preferred vector of choice for enhancer trapping, gene discovery and identifying gene function in insects and mammals. Many piggyBac-like sequences have been found in the genomes of phylogenetically species from fungi to mammals. We have identified 98 piggyBac-like sequences (BmPBLE1-98) from the genome data of domesticated silkworm (Bombyx mori) and 17 fragments from expressed sequence tags (ESTs). Most of the BmPBLE1-98 probably exist as fossils. A total of 21 BmPBLEs are flanked by ITRs and TTAA host dinucleotides, of which 5 contain a single ORF, implying that they may still be active. Interestingly, 16 BmPBLEs have CAC/GTG not CCC/GGG as the characteristic residues of ITRs, which is a surprising phenomenon first observed in the piggyBac families. Phylogenetic analysis indicates that many BmPBLEs have a close relation to mammals, especially to Homo sapiens, only a few being grouped with the T. ni piggyBac element. In addition, horizontal transfer was probably involved in the evolution of the piggyBac-like elements between B. mori and Daphnia pulicaria. The analysis of the BmPBLEs will contribute to our understanding of the characteristic of the piggyBac family and application of piggyBac in a wide range of insect species.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Bombyx / genetics*
  • DNA Transposable Elements / genetics*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Expressed Sequence Tags
  • Genome, Insect*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Terminal Repeat Sequences*


  • DNA Transposable Elements