Assembly of the Tc1 and Mariner Transposition Initiation Complexes Depends on the Origins of Their Transposase DNA Binding Domains

Genetica. 2007 Jun;130(2):105-20. doi: 10.1007/s10709-006-0025-2. Epub 2006 Aug 16.


In this review, we focus on the assembly of DNA/protein complexes that trigger transposition in eukaryotic members of the IS630-Tc1-mariner (ITm) super-family, the Tc1- and mariner-like elements (TLEs and MLEs). Elements belonging to this super-family encode transposases with DNA binding domains of different origins, and recent data indicate that the chimerization of functional domains has been an important evolutionary aspect in the generation of new transposons within the ITm super-family. These data also reveal that the inverted terminal repeats (ITRs) at the ends of transposons contain three kinds of motif within their sequences. The first two are well known and correspond to the cleavage site on the outer ITR extremities, and the transposase DNA binding site. The organization of ITRs and of the transposase DNA binding domains implies that differing pathways are used by MLEs and TLEs to regulate transposition initiation. These differences imply that the ways ITRs are recognized also differ leading to the formation of differently organized synaptic complexes. The third kind of motif is the transposition enhancers, which have been found in almost all the functional MLEs and TLEs analyzed to date. Finally, in vitro and in vivo assays of various elements all suggest that the transposition initiation complex is not formed randomly, but involves a mechanism of oriented transposon scanning.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • DNA Transposable Elements / genetics*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / chemistry*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Transposases / chemistry*
  • Transposases / genetics
  • Transposases / metabolism*


  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • mariner transposases
  • Tc1 transposase
  • Transposases