, Volume 98, Issue 3, pp 215-224

The β heterochromatic sequences flanking the I elements are themselves defective transposable elements

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Phylogenetic studies suggest that mobile element families are unstable components of the Drosophila genome. Two examples of immobilization of a transposable element family are presented here: as judged by their constant genomic organization among unrelated strains, the F and I element families have been respectively immobilized for a long time in D. simulans and in the reactive D. melanogaster strains (these are the laboratory strains which escaped the recent I invasion of D. melanogaster natural populations). All the elements of these defective families are located in the β heterochromatic portion of the genome. Moreover, most if not all of the β heterochromatic sequences into which the defective I elements are embedded are themselves non-mobile members of various nomadic families such as mdg 4, 297, 1731, F and Doc. These results are discussed with special emphasis on the possible nomadic origin of β heterochromatin components and on the mechanisms of evolutionary turnover of the transposable element families.