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Comparative and Functional Genomics
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 695827, 14 pages
Research Article

Mutator-Like Elements with Multiple Long Terminal Inverted Repeats in Plants

Department of Horticulture, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA

Received 30 August 2011; Revised 15 November 2011; Accepted 16 November 2011

Academic Editor: Diego Pasini

Copyright © 2012 Ann A. Ferguson and Ning Jiang. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Mutator-like transposable elements (MULEs) are widespread in plants and the majority have long terminal inverted repeats (TIRs), which distinguish them from other DNA transposons. It is known that the long TIRs of Mutator elements harbor transposase binding sites and promoters for transcription, indicating that the TIR sequence is critical for transposition and for expression of sequences between the TIRs. Here, we report the presence of MULEs with multiple TIRs mostly located in tandem. These elements are detected in the genomes of maize, tomato, rice, and Arabidopsis. Some of these elements are present in multiple copies, suggesting their mobility. For those elements that have amplified, sequence conservation was observed for both of the tandem TIRs. For one MULE family carrying a gene fragment, the elements with tandem TIRs are more prevalent than their counterparts with a single TIR. The successful amplification of this particular MULE demonstrates that MULEs with tandem TIRs are functional in both transposition and duplication of gene sequences.