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Genetica. 2000;109(1-2):25-33.

Drosophila telomeric transgenes provide insights on mechanisms of gene silencing.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Iowa, Iowa City 52242, USA.


A significant fraction of most eukaryotic genomes is packaged into chromatin that is not permissive for gene expression. This silent chromatin is typically located near centromeres and telomeres and has fascinated scientists for more than 70 years, yet many questions remain unanswered. Part of the difficulties in studying silent chromatin at the molecular level is the repetitive nature of the DNA sequences in these regions. To overcome this problem, Drosophila stocks carrying in vitro designed transgenes inserted within silent chromatin have been generated. Molecular analysis of these transgenes has shed light on the nature of the chromatin structure within these regions and provided insights on the mechanisms of gene silencing. This review will focus on recent studies using telomeric transgenes. The results from these studies suggest that nuclear organization plays a role in gene silencing and that silencing is the result of a block early in the process of transcription initiation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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