1. Chromosomes and Gene Expression
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Resolving the prevalence of somatic transposition in Drosophila

  1. Christoph Daniel Treiber  Is a corresponding author
  2. Scott Waddell  Is a corresponding author
  1. The University of Oxford, United Kingdom
Research Article
  • Cited 26
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Cite this article as: eLife 2017;6:e28297 doi: 10.7554/eLife.28297


Somatic transposition in mammals and insects could increase cellular diversity and neural mobilization has been implicated in age-dependent decline. To understand the impact of transposition in somatic cells it is essential to reliably measure the frequency and map locations of new insertions. Here we identified thousands of putative somatic transposon insertions in neurons from individual Drosophila melanogaster using whole-genome sequencing. However, the number of de novo insertions did not correlate with transposon expression or fly age. Analysing our data with exons as "immobile genetic elements" revealed a similar frequency of unexpected exon translocations. A new sequencing strategy that recovers transposon : chromosome junction information revealed most putative de novo transposon and exon insertions likely result from unavoidable chimeric artefacts. Reanalysis of other published data suggests similar artefacts are often mistaken for genuine somatic transposition. We conclude that somatic transposition is less prevalent in Drosophila than previously envisaged.

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Author details

  1. Christoph Daniel Treiber

    Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour, The University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-6994-091X
  2. Scott Waddell

    Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour, The University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-4503-6229


Wellcome (200846/Z/16/Z)

  • Scott Waddell

Bettencourt-Schueller Foundation

  • Scott Waddell

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Jonathan Flint, University of California, Los Angeles, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: May 2, 2017
  2. Accepted: July 21, 2017
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: July 25, 2017 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: August 11, 2017 (version 2)


© 2017, Treiber & Waddell

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


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