The TART, HeT-A, and TAHRE families of Drosophila non-LTR retrotransposons specifically retrotranspose to telomeres to maintain telomeric DNA. Recent evidence indicates that an RNA interference mechanism is likely to regulate TART, HeT-A, and TAHRE retrotransposition, but the developmental and tissue-specific expression of telomeric retrotransposon proteins has not previously been investigated. We have generated antisera against TART ORF1 protein (ORF1p) and used these antisera to examine the pattern of TART ORF1p expression in Drosophila melanogaster. We detected TART ORF1p throughout most of development and observed particularly high levels of protein in late larval and pupal stages. In late-stage larvae, ORF1p accumulates in brain and imaginal discs tissues, rather than in terminally differentiated larval tissues. Accumulation of ORF1p in imaginal discs is intriguing, since TART antisense RNA has previously been detected in imaginal discs, and we discuss the implications of these findings for TART regulation.
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