DNA-based transposable elements can be used as tools for gene engineering and gene therapy. A great advantage over RNA-mediated elements and retroviruses is the simplicity and safety of usage. The Tol1 element of the medaka fish Oryzias latipes has structural features of DNA-based elements. Although its excision has already been demonstrated, de novo insertion has not been observed, and a transposase has not been hitherto identified. We first cloned, through in silico search alignments and genomic library screenings, a 4.4-kb Tol1 copy carrying open reading frames and then identified, by mRNA analysis, a 2.9-kb transcript coding for 851 amino acids. The protein product of this transcript catalyzed transposition of a nonautonomous Tol1 copy in human and mouse culture cells. This identification of a fully functional Tol1 transposase could lead to the development of new tools for basic and translational molecular biology applications in mammals.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes