Cross-Species Interaction between Rapidly Evolving Telomere-Specific Drosophila Proteins

PLoS One. 2015 Nov 13;10(11):e0142771. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0142771. eCollection 2015.


Telomere integrity in Drosophila melanogaster is maintained by a putative multisubunit complex called terminin that is believed to act in analogy to the mammalian shelterin complex in protecting chromosome ends from being recognized as sites of DNA damage. The five proteins supposed to form the terminin complex are HP1-ORC associated protein, HP1-HOAP interacting protein, Verrocchio, Drosophila Telomere Loss/Modigliani and Heterochromatic Protein 1. Four of these proteins evolve rapidly within the Drosophila genus. The accelerated evolution of terminin components may indicate the involvement of these proteins in the process by which new species arise, as the resulting divergence of terminin proteins might prevent hybrid formation, thus driving speciation. However, terminin is not an experimentally proven entity, and no biochemical studies have been performed to investigate its assembly and action in detail. Motivated by these facts in order to initiate biochemical studies on terminin function, we attempted to reconstitute terminin by co-expressing its subunits in bacteria and investigated the possible role of the fast-evolving parts of terminin components in complex assembly. Our results suggest formation of stable subcomplexes of terminin, but not of the whole complex in vitro. We found that the accelerated evolution is restricted to definable regions of terminin components, and that the divergence of D. melanogaster Drosophila Telomere Loss and D. yakuba Verrocchio proteins does not preclude their stable interaction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Computational Biology
  • DNA Damage
  • Databases, Genetic
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics*
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Software
  • Species Specificity
  • Telomere / ultrastructure*


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • terminin

Grants and funding

This work was funded by the Hungarian Scientific Research Fund ( (OTKA PD83660 to BA; OTKA K100969 to IMB).