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Mol Biol Evol. 2002 Jun;19(6):926-37.

On the abundance and distribution of transposable elements in the genome of Drosophila melanogaster.

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  • 1Ashworth Laboratories, Institute of Cell, Animal and Population Biology, University of Edinburgh.


The abundance and distribution of transposable elements (TEs) in a representative part of the euchromatic genome of Drosophila melanogaster were studied by analyzing the sizes and locations of TEs of all known families in the genomic sequences of chromosomes 2R, X, and 4. TEs contribute to up to 2% of the sequenced DNA, which corresponds roughly to the euchromatin of these chromosomes. This estimate is lower than that previously available from in situ data and suggests that TEs accumulate in the heterochromatin more intensively than was previously thought. We have also found that TEs are not distributed at random in the chromosomes and that their abundance is more strongly associated with local recombination rates, rather than with gene density. The results are compatible with the ectopic exchange model, which proposes that selection against deleterious effects of chromosomal rearrangements is a major force opposing element spread in the genome of this species. Selection against insertional mutations also influences the observed patterns, such as an absence of insertions in coding regions. The results of the analyses are discussed in the light of recent findings on the distribution of TEs in other species.

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