Some mutant phenotypes are known to be unstable somatically and germinally due to the insertion of transposable elements in the Japanese morning glory (Ipomoea nil). Several transposable elements that cause mutable phenotypes have recently been isolated. All of these elements show characteristic features of the En/Spm (Enhancer/ Suppressor-mutator) or CACTA family. They carry common 28 bp terminal inverted repeats and subterminal repetitive regions and are known as the Tpn1 family. All of these elements are thought to be non-autonomous and mobilized by unidentified autonomous element(s). Using a probe corresponding to the subterminal region, we isolated many genomic Tpn clones, 120 of which were classified into 28 types based on their restriction maps. The copy number of the Tpn1 family was estimated to be between 500 and 1,000 copies per haploid genome. We then determined the complete sequences of 28 representative clones from each Tpn type. Most Tpn elements showed a high degree of similarity to plant genes in their internal sequences, suggesting that the Tpn1 family captured host gene sequences during the process of evolution. Detailed analyses of Tpn104 in comparison with an orthologous host gene InAP2B confirmed this assumption.
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