The medaka fish transposable element, Tol2, is a member of the hAT family of transposons. It has been directly demonstrated to be active and two mRNAs, differing in length, have been isolated. They cover exons 1-4 and exons 2-4 and the longer form has already been proven to catalyse transposition reactions. However, the function of the shorter mRNA in medaka cells has hitherto remained unclear. In the present study, first we constructed a quantitative system to detect Tol2 excision using an indicator plasmid carrying a non-autonomous Tol2 within its lacZ gene; second we injected mRNAs with the plasmid into medaka eggs. Excision of Tol2 was detected as E. coli blue colonies caused by the recovery of lacZ activity. Addition of the longer mRNA increased excision, but the shorter did not. Moreover, co-injection of both mRNAs greatly lowered the frequency compared with the case of treatment with the longer mRNA alone. These results indicate that the shorter mRNA has an inhibitory effect on the excision reaction, and that the N-terminal region of the transposase encoded by exon 1, including a BED zinc finger, presumably plays an important role in excision. Here, we suggest a regulatory mechanism of Tol2 transposition involving the expression of these mRNAs.
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