* To whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received February 15, 2007
The telomeric nucleoprotein complex protects linear chromosome ends from degradation. In contrast to most eukaryotes in which telomerase is responsible for telomere elongation by adding short DNA repeats synthesized using an RNA template, the telomere elongation in Drosophila involves transposition of specialized telomeric retroelements onto chromosome ends. Proteins that bind telomeric and subtelomeric sequences form specific telomeric chromatin, and its components are highly conserved among organisms employing different mechanisms of telomere elongation. This review is focused on the analysis of components of the Drosophila telomeric complex and its comparison with telomeric proteins in telomerase-encoded organisms. Structural and functional analysis of Drosophila telomeres suggests that there are three distinct chromatin regions: protective structure at the very end of chromosome (cap), subtelomeric region which is characterized by condensed chromatin structure, and the terminal retrotransposon array whose expression is under the control of an RNAi (RNA interference)-based mechanism. The link between RNAi and telomeric chromatin formation in germinal tissues is discussed.
KEY WORDS: telomere, retrotransposon, chromatin, Drosophila, RNAi