Repetitive DNA is a significant component of eukaryotic genomes. We have developed a strategy to efficiently and accurately sequence repetitive DNA in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans using integrated artificial transposons and automated fluorescent sequencing. Mapping and assembly tools represent important components of this strategy and facilitate sequence assembly in complex regions. We have applied the strategy to several cosmid assembly gaps resulting from repetitive DNA and have accurately recovered the sequences of these regions. Analysis of these regions revealed six novel transposon-like repetitive elements, IR-1, IR-2, IR-3, IR-4, IR-5, and TR-1. Each of these elements represents a middle-repetitive DNA family in C. elegans containing at least 3-140 copies per genome. Copies of IR-1, IR-2, IR-4, and IR-5 are located on all (or most) of the six nematode chromosomes, whereas IR-3 is predominantly located on chromosome X. These elements are almost exclusively interspersed between predicted genes or within the predicted introns of these genes, with the exception of a single IR-5 element, which is located within a predicted exon. IR-1, IR-2, and IR-3 are flanked by short sequence duplications resembling the target site duplications of transposons. We have established a website database (http://www.welch.jhu.edu/~devine/RepDNAdb.html) to track and cross-reference these transposon-like repetitive elements that contains detailed information on individual element copies and provides links to appropriate GenBank records. This set of tools may be used to sequence, track, and study repetitive DNA in model organisms and humans.
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