New superfamilies of eukaryotic DNA transposons and their internal divisions

Mol Biol Evol. 2009 May;26(5):983-93. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msp013. Epub 2009 Jan 27.


Despite their enormous diversity and abundance, all currently known eukaryotic DNA transposons belong to only 15 superfamilies. Here, we report two new superfamilies of DNA transposons, named Sola and Zator. Sola transposons encode DDD-transposases (transposase, TPase) and are flanked by 4-bp target site duplications (TSD). Elements from the Sola superfamily are distributed in a variety of species including bacteria, protists, plants, and metazoans. They can be divided into three distinct groups of elements named Sola1, Sola2, and Sola3. The elements from each group have extremely low sequence identity to each other, different termini, and different target site preferences. However, all three groups belong to a single superfamily based on significant PSI-Blast identities between their TPases. The DDD TPase sequences encoded by Sola transposons are not similar to any known TPases. The second superfamily named Zator is characterized by 3-bp TSD. The Zator superfamily is relatively rare in eukaryotic species, and it evolved from a bacterial transposon encoding a TPase belonging to the "transposase 36" family (Pfam07592). These transposons are named TP36 elements (abbreviated from transposase 36).

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Bacteria / enzymology
  • Base Sequence
  • Biocatalysis
  • DNA Transposable Elements / genetics*
  • Eukaryotic Cells / metabolism*
  • Genome / genetics
  • Hydra / genetics*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional
  • Phylogeny
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid
  • Transposases / chemistry


  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Transposases