Drosophila telomeres comprise DNA sequences that differ dramatically from those of other eukaryotes. Telomere functions, however, are similar to those found in telomerase-based telomeres, even though the underlying mechanisms may differ. Drosophila telomeres use arrays of retrotransposons to maintain chromosome length, while nearly all other eukaryotes rely on telomerase-generated short repeats. Regardless of the DNA sequence, several end-binding proteins are evolutionarily conserved. Away from the end, the Drosophila telomeric and subtelomeric DNA sequences are complexed with unique combinations of proteins that also modulate chromatin structure elsewhere in the genome. Maintaining and regulating the transcriptional activity of the telomeric retrotransposons in Drosophila requires specific chromatin structures and, while telomeric silencing spreads from the terminal repeats in yeast, the source of telomeric silencing in Drosophila is the subterminal arrays. However, the subterminal arrays in both species may be involved in telomere-telomere associations and/or communication.
(c) 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.