Potentially active copies of the gypsy retroelement are confined to the y chromosome of some strains of drosophila melanogaster possibly as the result of the female-specific effect of the flamenco gene
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Gypsy is an endogenous retrovirus present in the genome of Drosophila melanogaster. This element is mobilized only in the progeny of females which contain active gypsy elements and which are homozygous for permissive alleles of a host gene called flamenco (flam). Some data strongly suggest that gypsy elements bearing a diagnostic HindIII site in the central region of the retrovirus body represent a subfamily that appears to be much more active than elements devoid of this site. We have taken advantage of this structural difference to assess by the Southern blotting technique the genomic distribution of active gypsy elements. In some of the laboratory Drosophila stocks tested, active gypsy elements were found to be restricted to the Y chromosome. Further analyses of 14 strains tested for the permissive vs. restrictive status of their flamenco alleles suggest that the presence of permissive alleles of flam in a stock tends to be associated with the confinement of active gypsy elements to the Y chromosome. This might be the result of the female-specific effect of flamenco on gypsy activity.
Key wordsDrosophila melanogaster Retrovirus Genomic organization Y chromosome Heterochromatin
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