Analysis of the DDE motif in the Mutator superfamily

J Mol Evol. 2008 Dec;67(6):670-81. doi: 10.1007/s00239-008-9178-1.


The eukaryotic Mutator family of transposable elements is widespread in plants. Active or potentially active copies are also found in fungi and protozoans, and sequences related to this family have been detected in metazoans as well. Members of this family are called Mutator-like elements (MULEs). They encode transposases, which contain a region conserved with transposases of the IS256 prokaryotic family, known to harbor a DDE catalytic domain. Different DDE or D34E motifs have been proposed in some groups of eukaryotic MULEs based on primary sequence conservation. On a large number of protein sequences related to, and representative of, all MULE families, we analyzed global conservation, the close environment of different acidic residues and the secondary structure. This allowed us to identify a potential DDE motif that is likely to be homologous to the one in IS256-like transposases. The characteristics of this motif are depicted in each known family of MULEs. Different hypotheses about the evolution of this triad are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Conserved Sequence
  • DNA Transposable Elements / genetics*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Phylogeny
  • Protein Folding
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Analysis, Protein
  • Transposases / chemistry*
  • Transposases / classification
  • Transposases / genetics
  • Transposases / metabolism*


  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Transposases