Indexed on: 07 Sep '01Published on: 07 Sep '01Published in: Nature
Transposons have been enormously useful for genetic analysis in both Drosophila and bacteria. Mutagenic insertions constitute molecular tags that are used to rapidly clone the mutated gene. Such techniques would be especially advantageous in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, as the entire sequence of the genome has been determined. Several different types of endogenous transposons are present in C. elegans, and these can be mobilized in mutator strains (reviewed in ref. 1). Unfortunately, use of these native transposons for regulated transposition in C. elegans is limited. First, all strains contain multiple copies of these transposons and thus new insertions do not provide unique tags. Second, mutator strains tend to activate the transposition of several classes of transposons, so that the type of transposon associated with a particular mutation is not known. Here we demonstrate that the Drosophila mariner element Mos1 can be mobilized in C. elegans. First, efficient mobilization of Mos1 is possible in somatic cells. Second, heritable insertions of the transposon can be generated in the germ line. Third, genes that have been mutated by insertion can be rapidly identified using inverse polymerase chain reaction. Fourth, these insertions can subsequently be remobilized to generate deletion and frameshift mutations by imperfect excision.