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Genetics. Mar 2004; 166(3): 1313–1321.
PMCID: PMC1470774

Evidence for a piwi-dependent RNA silencing of the gypsy endogenous retrovirus by the Drosophila melanogaster flamenco gene.


In Drosophila melanogaster, the endogenous retrovirus gypsy is repressed by the functional alleles (restrictive) of an as-yet-uncloned heterochromatic gene called flamenco. Using gypsy-lacZ transcriptional fusions, we show here that this repression takes place not only in the follicle cells of restrictive ovaries, as was previously observed, but also in restrictive larval female gonads. Analyses of the role of gypsy cis-regulatory sequences in the control of gypsy expression are also presented. They rule out the hypothesis that gypsy would contain a single binding region for a putative Flamenco repressor. Indeed, the ovarian expression of a chimeric yp3-lacZ construct was shown to become sensitive to the Flamenco regulation when any of three different 5'-UTR gypsy sequences (ranging from 59 to 647 nucleotides) was incorporated into the heterologous yp3-lacZ transcript. The piwi mutation, which is known to affect RNA-mediated homology-dependent transgene silencing, was also shown to impede the repression of gypsy in restrictive female gonads. Finally, a RNA-silencing model is also supported by the finding in ovaries of short RNAs (25-27 nucleotides long) homologous to sequences from within the gypsy 5'-UTR.

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Selected References

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