Regulation of the transposable element mariner

Genetica. 1997;100(1-3):177-84.


The mariner/Tcl superfamily of transposable elements is widely distributed in animal genomes and is especially prevalent in insects. Their wide distribution results from their ability to be disseminated among hosts by horizontal transmission and also by their ability to persist in genomes through multiple speciation events. Although a great deal is known about the molecular mechanisms of transposition and excision, very little is known about the mechanisms by which transposition is controlled within genomes. The issue of mariner/Tcl regulation is critical in view of the great interest in these elements as vectors for germline transformation of insect pests and vectors of human disease. Several potentially important regulatory mechanisms have been identified in studies of genetically engineered mariner elements. One mechanism is overproduction inhibition, in which excessive wild-type transposase reduces the rate of excision of a target element. A second mechanism is mediated by certain mutant transposase proteins, which antagonize the activity of the wild-type transposase. The latter process may help explain why the vast majority of MLEs in nature undergo 'vertical inactivation' by multiple mutations and, eventually, stochastic loss. Another potential mechanism of regulation may result from transposase titration by defective elements that retain their DNA binding sites and ability to transpose. There is also evidence that some mariner/Tcl elements can be mobilized in a type of hybrid dysgenesis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA Transposable Elements / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology*
  • Genes, Dominant
  • Genetic Complementation Test
  • Genome
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Transformation, Genetic
  • Transposases / genetics


  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Transposases