The plant genome evolves with rapid proliferation of LTR-type retrotransposons, which is associated with their clustered accumulation in gene-poor regions, such as centromeres. Despite their major role for plant genome evolution, no mobile LTR element with targeted integration into gene-poor regions has been identified in plants. Here, we report such targeted integrations de novo. We and others have previously shown that an ATCOPIA93 family retrotransposon in Arabidopsis thaliana is mobilized when the DNA methylation machinery is compromised. Although ATCOPIA93 family elements are low copy number in the wild-type A. thaliana genome, high-copynumber related elements are found in the wild-type Arabidopsis lyrata genome, and they show centromere-specific localization. To understand the mechanisms for the clustered accumulation of the A. lyrata elements directly, we introduced one of them, named Tal1 (Transposon of Arabidopsis lyrata 1), into A. thaliana by transformation. The introduced Tal1 was retrotransposed in A. thaliana, and most of the retrotransposed copies were found in centromeric repeats of A. thaliana, suggesting targeted integration. The targeted integration is especially surprising because the centromeric repeat sequences differ considerably between A. lyrata and A. thaliana. Our results revealed unexpectedly dynamic controls for evolution of the transposon-rich heterochromatic regions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas