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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1995 Apr 25;92(9):3804-8.

Transposable elements are stable structural components of Drosophila melanogaster heterochromatin.

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  • 1Istituto Pasteur-Fondazione Cenci Bolognetti, Universit√† di Roma La Sapienza, Italy.


We determined the distribution of 11 different transposable elements on Drosophila melanogaster mitotic chromosomes by using high-resolution fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) coupled with charge-coupled device camera analysis. Nine of these transposable elements (copia, gypsy, mdg-1, blood, Doc, I, F, G, and Bari-1) are preferentially clustered into one or more discrete heterochromatic regions in chromosomes of the Oregon-R laboratory stock. Moreover, FISH analysis of geographically distant strains revealed that the locations of these heterochromatic transposable element clusters are highly conserved. The P and hobo elements, which are likely to have invaded the D. melanogaster genome at the beginning of this century, are absent from Oregon-R heterochromatin but clearly exhibit heterochromatic clusters in certain natural populations. Together these data indicate that transposable elements are major structural components of Drosophila heterochromatin, and they change the current views on the role of transposable elements in host genome evolution.

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