Deletion analysis of the 3' long terminal repeat sequence of plant retrotransposon Tto1 identifies 125 base pairs redundancy as sufficient for first strand transfer
Retroviruses and many retrotransposons are flanked by sequence repeats called long terminal repeats (LTRs). These sequences contain a promoter region, which is active in the 5 LTR, and transcription termination signals, which are active in the LTR copy present at the 3 end. A section in the middle of the LTR, called Redundancy region, occurs at both ends of the mRNA. Here we show that in the copia type retrotransposon Tto1, the promoter and terminator functions of the LTR can be supplied by heterologous sequences, thereby converting the LTR into a significantly shorter sub-terminal repeat. An engineered Tto1 element with 125 instead of the usual 574 base pairs repeated in the 5 and 3 region can still promote strand transfer during cDNA synthesis, defining a minimal Redundancy region for this element. Based on this finding, we propose a model for first strand transfer of Tto1.