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Biochem Cell Biol. 2005 Aug;83(4):477-85.

Euchromatic and heterochromatic domains at Drosophila telomeres.

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Developmental Biology Center, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697, USA.


Noncoding repetitive sequences make up a large portion of eukaryotic genomes, but their function is not well understood. Large blocks of repetitive DNA-forming heterochromatin around the centromeres are required for this region to function properly, but are difficult to analyze. The smaller regions of heterochromatin at the telomeres provide an opportunity to study their DNA and protein composition. Drosophila telomere length is maintained through the targeted transposition of specific non-long terminal repeat retrotransposons to chromosome ends, where they form long tandem arrays. A subterminal telomere-associated sequence (TAS) lies immediately proximal to the terminal-retrotransposon array. Here, we review the experimental support for the heterochromatic features of Drosophila telomeres, and provide evidence that telomeric regions contain 2 distinct chromatin subdomains: TAS, which exhibits features that resemble beta heterochromatin; and the terminal array of retrotransposons, which appears euchromatic. This organization is significantly different from the telomeric organization of other eukaryotes, where the terminal telomerase-generated repeats are often folded in a t-loop structure and become part of the heterochromatin protein complex.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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