Frequent transpositions of Drosophila melanogaster HeT-A transposable elements to receding chromosome ends

EMBO J. 1992 Dec;11(12):4459-69.


HeT-A elements are a new family of transposable elements in Drosophila that are found exclusively in telomeric regions and in the pericentric heterochromatin. Transposition of these elements onto broken chromosome ends has been implicated in chromosome healing. To monitor the fate of HeT-A elements that had attached to broken ends of the X chromosome, we examined individual X chromosomes from a defined population over a period of 17 generations. The ends of the X chromosomes with new HeT-A additions receded at the same rate as the broken ends before the HeT-A elements attached. In addition, some chromosomes, approximately 1% per generation, had acquired new HeT-A sequences of an average of 6 kb at their ends with oligo(A) tails at the junctions. Thus, the rate of addition of new material per generation matches the observed rate of terminal loss (70-75 bp) caused by incomplete replication at the end of the DNA molecule. One such recently transposed HeT-A element which is at least 12 kb in length has been examined in detail. It contains a single open reading frame of 2.8 kb which codes for a gag-like protein.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Blotting, Southern
  • DNA
  • DNA Transposable Elements*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Gene Products, gag / genetics
  • Heterochromatin
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Restriction Mapping
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Telomere
  • X Chromosome*


  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Gene Products, gag
  • Heterochromatin
  • DNA

Associated data

  • GENBANK/M94777
  • GENBANK/M94778
  • GENBANK/M94779
  • GENBANK/M94780
  • GENBANK/M94781
  • GENBANK/M94782
  • GENBANK/M94783
  • GENBANK/M94784
  • GENBANK/M94785
  • GENBANK/X68130