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Mol Biol Evol. 2004 Sep;21(9):1620-4. Epub 2004 Jun 2.

TAHRE, a novel telomeric retrotransposon from Drosophila melanogaster, reveals the origin of Drosophila telomeres.


Drosophila telomeres do not have typical telomerase repeats. Instead, two families of non-LTR retrotransposons, HeT-A and TART, maintain telomere length by occasional transposition to the chromosome ends. Despite the work on Drosophila telomeres, its evolutionary origin remains controversial. Herein we describe a novel telomere-specific retroelement that we name TAHRE (Telomere-Associated and HeT-A-Related Element). The structure of the three telomere-specific elements indicates a common ancestor. These results suggest that preexisting transposable elements were recruited to perform the cellular function of telomere maintenance. A recruitment similar to that of a retrotransposal reverse transcriptase has been suggested as the common origin of telomerases.

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