Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

High-frequency precise excision of the Drosophila foldback transposable element


Precise excision of transposable elements in prokaryotes is a rare event which occurs at a significantly lower rate than transposition and other element-mediated events1. Thus, we were intrigued by a eukaryotic transposable element which seemed capable of precise excision at high frequencies. The white-crimson (wc) mutation in Drosophila, a highly unstable allele of the X-linked eye colour locus, white2, resulted from the insertion of a member of the foldback (FB) transposable element family3,4. This mutation reverts to its parental phenotype at a frequency of greater than 1 in 103 X chromosomes2. Characterization of these revertants by Southern blots of genomic DNA indicated that they resulted from loss of the wc insertion3. Here we report the nucleotide sequence of the excision point in these revertants, and conclude that the FB element responsible for the wc mutation is capable of precise excision at high frequencies.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Get just this article for as long as you need it


Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout


  1. Kleckner, N. A. Rev. Genet. 15, 341–404 (1981).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Green, M. M. Genetics 56, 467–482 (1967).

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  3. Collins, M. & Rubin, G. M. Cell 30, 71–79 (1982).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Levis, R., Collins, M. & Rubin, G. M. Cell 30, 551–565 (1982).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Karess, R. E. & Rubin, G. M. Cell 30, 63–69 (1982).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Potter, S. S., Truett, M., Phillips, M. & Maher, A. Cell 20, 639–647 (1980).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Truett, M. A., Jones, R. S. & Potter, S. S. Cell 24, 753–763 (1981).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Potter, S. S. Nature 297, 201–204 (1982).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Calos, M. P. & Miller, J. H. Cell 20, 579–595 (1980).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Berg, D. E. et al. Cold Spring Harb. Symp. quant. Biol. 45, 115–124 (1981).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Foster, T. J., Lundblad, V., Hanley-Way, S., Halling, S. M. & Kleckner, N. Cell 23, 215–227 (1981).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Schaller, H. Cold Spring Harb. Symp. quant. Biol. 43, 401–408 (1979).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Kleckner, N. Cell 16, 711–720 (1979).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  14. Egner, C. & Berg, D. E. Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 78, 459–463 (1981).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Farabaugh, P. J., Schmeissner, U., Hofer, M. & Miller, J. H. J. molec. Biol. 126, 847–57 (1978).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  16. Albertini, A. M., Hofer, M., Calos, M. P. & Miller, J. H. Cell 29, 319–328 (1982).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  17. Rubin, G. M., Kidwell, M. G. & Bingham, P. M. Cell 30, 987–994 (1982).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. O'Hare, K. & Rubin, G. M. Cell (submitted).

  19. Messing, J. & Viera, J. Gene 19, 269–276 (1982).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  20. Sanger, F., Nicklen, S. & Coulson, A. R. Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 74, 5463–5467 (1977).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  21. Sanger, F., Coulson, A. R., Barell, B. G., Smith, A. J. H. & Roe, B. A. J. molec. Biol. 143, 161–178 (1980).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  22. Messing, J., Crea, R. & Seeburg, P. H. Nucleic. Acids Res. 9, 309–321 (1981).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  23. Bolivar, F. et al. Gene 2, 95–113 (1977).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  24. Rimm, D. L., Horness, D., Kucera, J. & Blattner, F. R. Gene 12, 301–309 (1980).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Collins, M., Rubin, G. High-frequency precise excision of the Drosophila foldback transposable element. Nature 303, 259–260 (1983).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing