A retrovirus-like strategy for expression of a fusion protein encoded by yeast transposon Ty1.
Eukaryotic transposons such as the Ty element of yeast or the copia-like sequences of Drosophila show structural and functional similarities to both prokaryotic transposons and retroviral proviruses, but the prokaryotic transposons and retroviral proviruses use markedly different expression strategies which yield products having entirely different functions. To determine the phylogenetic relationship between eukaryotic transposons, prokaryotic transposons and retroviruses, we have sought to identify and characterize the proteins encoded by the yeast Ty element and to describe the strategies used to express these proteins. We show here that the yeast transposon produces a fusion protein by a specific frameshifting event that fuses two out-of-phase open reading frames (ORFs). The process is remarkably similar to that used by retroviruses such as Rous sarcoma virus (RSV) to produce Pr180gag-pol.