The transposable element Tc1 in Caenorhabditis elegans undergoes an excision reaction, which can be detected in a Southern hybridization as the appearance of empty chromosomal insertion sites. This excision reaction is under tissue-specific regulation in that it occurs at much higher frequency in somatic cells than in the germ line. We show here that this regulation is likely to be due to the action of tissue-specific factors that either promote excision in somatic tissues or repress it in the germ line. The rate of excision of elements at five distinct chromosomal sites has been measured by a method that avoids ambiguities due to cell division. All these elements are found to undergo excision at closely similar rates during the L1 larval stage. No distinct difference exists among the elements at different sites that would suggest regulation by flanking sequences.
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