Infection of the germ line by retroviral particles produced in the follicle cells: A possible mechanism for the mobilization of the gypsy retroelement of Drosophila

Sun U. Song, M. Kurkulos, Jef D. Boeke, Victor G. Corces

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    The gypsy retroelement of Drosophila moves at high frequency in the germ line of the progeny of females carrying a mutation in the flamenco (flam) gene. This high rate of de novo insertion correlates with elevated accumulation of full-length gypsy RNA in the ovaries of these females, as well as the presence of an env-specific RNA. We have prepared monoclonal antibodies against the gypsy Pol and Env products and found that these proteins are expressed in the ovaries of flam females and processed in the manner characteristic of vertebrate retroviruses. The Pol proteins are expressed in both follicle and nurse cells, but they do not accumulate at detectable levels in the oocyte. The Env proteins are expressed exclusively in the follicle cells starting at stage 9 of oogenesis, where they accumulate in the secretory apparatus of the endoplasmic reticulum. They then migrate to the inner side of the cytoplasmic membrane where they assemble into viral particles. These particles can be observed in the perivitelline space starting at stage 10 by immunoelectron microscopy using anti-Env antibodies. We propose a model to explain flamenco-mediated induction of gypsy mobilization that involves the synthesis of gypsy viral particles in the follicle cells, from where they leave and infect the oocyte, thus explaining gypsy insertion into the germ line of the subsequent generation.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)2789-2798
    Number of pages10
    JournalDevelopment
    Volume124
    Issue number14
    StatePublished - Jul 1997

    Keywords

    • Drosophila
    • Flamenco
    • Follicle
    • Germ line
    • Gypsy
    • Oogenesis
    • Retroelement
    • Retrovirus

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Molecular Biology
    • Developmental Biology

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