Expression of the Idefix retrotransposon in early follicle cells in the germarium of Drosophila melanogaster is determined by its LTR sequences and a specific genomic context
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Retrotransposons are transcriptionally activated in different tissues and cell types by a variety of genomic and environmental factors. Transcription of LTR retrotransposons is controlled by cis-acting regulatory sequences in the 5′ LTR. Mobilization of two LTR retroelements, Idefix and ZAM, occurs in the unstable RevI line of Drosophila melanogaster, in which their copy numbers are high, while they are low in all other stocks tested. Here we show that both a full-length and a subgenomic Idefix transcript that are necessary for its mobilization are present in the Rev1 line, but not in the other lines. Studies on transgenic strains demonstrate that the 5′ LTR of Idefix contains sequences that direct the tissue-specific expression of the retroelement in testes and ovaries of adult flies. In ovaries, expression occurs in the early follicle and in other somatic cells of the germarium, and is strictly associated with the unstable genetic context conferred by the RevI line. Control of tissue-specific Idefix expression by interactions between cis-acting sequences of its LTR and trans-acting genomic factors provides an opportunity to use this retroelement as a tool for the study of the early follicle cell lineage in the germarium.
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