Localization, mobility and fidelity of retrotransposed Group II introns in rRNA genes. Academic Article uri icon


  • We previously showed that the group II Lactococcus lactis Ll.LtrB intron could retrotranspose into ectopic locations on the genome of its native host. Two integration events, which had been mapped to unique sequences, were localized in the present study to separate copies of the six L.lactis 23S rRNA genes, within operon B or D. Although further movement within the bacterial chromosome was undetectable, the retrotransposed introns were able to re-integrate into their original homing site provided on a plasmid. This finding indicates not only that retrotransposed group II introns retain mobility properties, but also that movement occurs back into sequence that is heterologous to the sequence of the chromosomal location. Sequence analysis of the retrotransposed introns and the secondary mobility events back to the homing site showed that the introns retain sequence integrity. These results are illuminating, since the reverse transcriptase (RT) of the intron-encoded protein, LtrA, has no known proofreading function, yet the mobility events have a low error rate. Enzymatic digests were used to monitor sequence changes from the wild-type intron. The results indicate that retromobility events have approximately 10(-5) misincorporations per nucleotide inserted. In contrast to the high RT error rates for retroviruses that must escape host defenses, the infrequent mutations of group II introns would ensure intron spread through retention of sequences essential for mobility.

publication date

  • 2005