Drosophila telomeres: new views on chromosome evolution

Trends Genet. 1996 Feb;12(2):48-52. doi: 10.1016/0168-9525(96)81399-0.


In Drosophila, chromosome ends (telomeres) are composed of telomere-specific transposable elements (the retroposons HeT-A and TART). These elements are a bona fide part of the cellular machinery yet have many of the hallmarks of retrotransposable elements and retroviruses, raising the possibility that parasitic transposable elements and viruses might have evolved from mechanisms that the cell uses to maintain its chromosomes. It is striking that Drosophila, the model organism for many discoveries in genetics, development and molecular biology (including the classical concept of telomeres), should prove to have chromosome ends different from the generally accepted model. Studies of these telomere-specific retrotransposable elements raise questions about conventional wisdom concerning not only telomeres, but also transposable elements and heterochromatin.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Retroelements
  • Telomere / genetics*


  • Retroelements