The 1.6 kb Tc1 transposable element of Caenorhabditis elegans undergoes excision and transposition in the germline. In somatic tissue it is excised at high frequency. Extrachromosomal linear and circular copies of Tc1 have been identified that are likely to be products of somatic and germline excision. In the present study, we have determined the sequences of the sites of circularization in circular extrachromosomal Tc1 molecules. DNA molecules containing these sites were cloned after PCR amplification with primers directed outward from within Tc1. Sequences were obtained with two complete Tc1 ends and one or more intervening copies of the TA dinucleotide, with one complete end and one deleted end, and with two deleted ends. The 24 clones had different structures, indicating the pool of molecules serving as PCR templates was heterogeneous. The predominant circular Junction had one or more nucleotides deleted from at least one transposon end. Such a molecule without two complete ends might not be expected to serve as a transposition intermediate. Hence, some extrachromosomal circular Tc1 molecules may result from a deadend excision pathway.
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