Rotifer rDNA-specific R9 retrotransposable elements generate an exceptionally long target site duplication upon insertion.Gene. 2009 Dec 15; 448(2):145-50.GENE
Ribosomal DNA genes in many eukaryotes contain insertions of non-LTR retrotransposable elements belonging to the R2 clade. These elements persist in the host genomes by inserting site-specifically into multicopy target sites, thereby avoiding random disruption of single-copy host genes. Here we describe R9 retrotransposons from the R2 clade in the 28S RNA genes of bdelloid rotifers, small freshwater invertebrate animals best known for their long-term asexuality and for their ability to survive repeated cycles of desiccation and rehydration. While the structural organization of R9 elements is highly similar to that of other members of the R2 clade, they are characterized by two distinct features: site-specific insertion into a previously unreported target sequence within the 28S gene, and an unusually long target site duplication of 126 bp. We discuss the implications of these findings in the context of bdelloid genome organization and the mechanisms of target-primed reverse transcription.