Helitron mediated amplification of cytochrome P450 monooxygenase gene in maize

Plant Mol Biol. 2008 Jun;67(3):295-304. doi: 10.1007/s11103-008-9318-4.


The mass movement of gene sequences by Helitrons has significantly contributed to the lack of gene collinearity reported between different maize inbred lines. However, Helitron captured-genes reported to date represent truncated versions of their progenitor genes. In this report, we provide evidence that maize CYP72A27-Zm gene represents a cytochrome P450 monooxygenase (P450) gene recently captured by a Helitron and transposed into an Opie-2 retroposon. The four exons of the CYP72A27 gene contained within the element contain a putative open reading frame (ORF) for 428 amino acid residues. We provide evidence that Helitron captured CYP72A27-Zm is transcribed. To identify the progenitor gene and the evolutionary time of capture, we searched the plant genome database and discovered other closely related CYP72A27-Zm genes in maize and grasses. Our analysis indicates that CYP72A27-Zm represents an almost complete copy of maize CYP72A26-Zm gene captured by a Helitron about 3.1 million years ago (mya). The Helitron-captured gene then duplicated twice, approximately 1.5-1.6 mya giving rise to CYP72A36-Zm and CYP72A37-Zm. These data provide evidence that Helitrons can capture and mobilize intact genes that are transcribed and potentially encode biologically relevant proteins.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Base Pairing
  • Base Sequence
  • Conserved Sequence
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / chemistry
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / genetics*
  • Exons
  • Gene Amplification*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Zea mays / enzymology
  • Zea mays / genetics*


  • Plant Proteins
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System