Proviral amplification of the Gypsy endogenous retrovirus of Drosophila melanogaster involves env-independent invasion of the female germline

EMBO J. 1999 May 4;18(9):2659-69. doi: 10.1093/emboj/18.9.2659.


Gypsy is an infectious endogenous retrovirus of Drosophila melanogaster. The gypsy proviruses replicate very efficiently in the genome of the progeny of females homozygous for permissive alleles of the flamenco gene. This replicative transposition is correlated with derepression of gypsy expression, specifically in the somatic cells of the ovaries of the permissive mothers. The determinism of this amplification was studied further by making chimeric mothers containing different permissive/restrictive and somatic/germinal lineages. We show here that the derepression of active proviruses in the permissive soma is necessary and sufficient to induce proviral insertions in the progeny, even if the F1 flies derive from restrictive germ cells devoid of active proviruses. Therefore, gypsy endogenous multiplication results from the transfer of some gypsy-encoded genetic material from the soma towards the germen of the mother and its subsequent insertion into the chromosomes of the progeny. This transfer, however, is not likely to result from retroviral infection of the germline. Indeed, we also show here that the insertion of a tagged gypsy element, mutant for the env gene, occurs at high frequency, independently of the production of gypsy Env proteins by any transcomplementing helper. The possible role of the env gene for horizontal transfer to new hosts is discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Lineage
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / virology
  • Endogenous Retroviruses / genetics*
  • Female
  • Gene Amplification*
  • Genes, Insect
  • Genes, env
  • Ovum
  • Proviruses / genetics*
  • Retroelements*
  • Sex Factors
  • Virus Replication


  • Retroelements