Zepp, a LINE-like retrotransposon accumulated in the Chlorella telomeric region

EMBO J. 1997 Jun 16;16(12):3715-23. doi: 10.1093/emboj/16.12.3715.


Six copies of insertion elements accumulate in the subtelomeric region immediately proximal to the telomeric repeats on Chlorella chromosome I. The elements, designated Zepps, bear the characteristic features of non-viral (LINE-like) retrotransposons, including a poly(A) tail, 5'-truncations, a retroviral reverse transcriptase-like ORF and flanking target duplications. Detailed sequence analysis of the Chlorella subtelomeric region revealed a novel mechanism of Zepp transposition; successive insertions of each Zepp element into another Zepp as a target, leaving a tandem array of their 3'-regions with poly(A) tracts facing toward the centromere. Only the most distal Zepp copy was inverted to connect its poly(A) tail with the telomeric repeats. A similar Zepp cluster but without the telomeric repeats was also found at the terminus of another Chlorella chromosome. These structures contrast with that proposed for the addition of HeT-A and TART elements to Drosophila telomeres. Expression of Zepp elements is induced by heat shock treatment. Possible roles of the subtelomeric retrotransposons in formation and maintenance of telomeres are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Centromere
  • Chlorella / genetics*
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Conserved Sequence
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multigene Family
  • Open Reading Frames
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA-Directed DNA Polymerase
  • Repetitive Sequences, Nucleic Acid
  • Retroelements*
  • Telomere*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Retroelements
  • RNA-Directed DNA Polymerase

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AB008896
  • GENBANK/D26375
  • GENBANK/D82879
  • GENBANK/D89938