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Genetics. 2002 Nov;162(3):1301-12.

Enhancer of terminal gene conversion, a new mutation in Drosophila melanogaster that induces telomere elongation by gene conversion.

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  • 1Department of Control of Genetic Processes, Institute of Gene Biology, Russian Academy of Sciences, 117334 Moscow, Russia.


Telomeres of Drosophila melanogaster contain arrays of the retrotransposon-like elements HeT-A and TART. Terminally deleted chromosomes can be maintained for many generations. Thus, broken chromosome ends behave as real telomeres. It was previously shown that gene conversion may extend the broken ends. Here we found that the frequency of terminal DNA elongation by gene conversion strongly depends on the genotype. A dominant E(tc) (Enhancer of terminal gene conversion) mutation markedly increases the frequency of this event but does not significantly influence the frequency of HeT-A and TART attachment to the broken chromosome end and recombination between directly repeated sequences at the end of the truncated chromosome. The E(tc) mutation was mapped to the 91-93 region on chromosome 3. Drosophila lines that bear the E(tc) mutation for many generations have telomeres, consisting of HeT-A and TART elements, that are longer than those found in wild-type lines. Thus, the E(tc) mutation plays a significant role in the control of telomere elongation in D. melanogaster.

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