The Drosophila retroelement gypsy has a number of unusual features including an unusual LTR terminal sequence and an apparent target sequence preference. The ovo locus is a known hotspot for gypsy insertion. We examined the target sequence preference of gypsy within ovo by isolating 26 new insertions and sequencing the gypsy/ovo junctions. Insertions were found at multiple sites within the ovo locus. The insertions clustered within an ~ 150 bp region in the non-translated region of the ovoβ transcript, with most insertions failing within the first intron. There were seven sites of insertion within this region and these mostly conform to the consensus sequence YRYRYR (where Y = pyrimidine and R = purine). However, this target sequence is at best necessary but not sufficient to specify a hotspot, as there were several other sequences conforming to this consensus in the ovo locus that were not hit. The results indicate that gypsy may have a higher degree of target specificity than most infectious LTR retroelements.
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