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Penelope retroelements from Drosophila virilis are active after transformation of Drosophila melanogaster

Pyatkov, K.I., Shostak, N.G., Zelentsova, E.S., Lyozin, G.T., Melekhin, M.I., Finnegan, D.J., Kidwell, M.G., Evgen'ev, M.B.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2002 v.99 no.25 pp. 16150-16155
Drosophila melanogaster, Drosophila virilis, retrotransposons, genetic transformation, germ cells, gene expression, messenger RNA, heterochromatin, chromosome mapping, transcription (genetics), nucleic acid hybridization, in situ hybridization
The Penelope family of retroelements was first described in species of the Drosophila virilis group. Intact elements encode a reverse transcriptase and an endonuclease of the UvrC type, which may play a role in Penelope integration. Penelope is a key element in the induction of D. virilis hybrid dysgenesis, which involves the mobilization of several unrelated families of transposable elements. We here report the successful introduction of Penelope into the germ line of Drosophila melanogaster by P element-mediated transformation with three different constructs. Penelope is actively transcribed in the D. melanogaster genome only in lines transformed with a construct containing a full-length Penelope clone. The transcript is identical to that detected in D. virilis dysgenic hybrids. Most newly transposed Penelope elements have a very complex organization. Significant proliferation of Penelope copy number occurred in some lines during the 24-month period after transformation. The absence of copy number increase with two other constructs suggests that the 5' and/or 3' UTRs of Penelope are required for successful transposition in D. melanogaster. No insect retroelement has previously been reported to be actively transcribed and to increase in copy number after interspecific transformation.