UMass Chan Medical School Faculty Publications

UMMS Affiliation

Program in Molecular Medicine; Program in Bioinformatics and Integrative Biology

Publication Date


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Article Preprint


Bioinformatics | Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Genetic Phenomena | Genetics and Genomics | Nucleic Acids, Nucleotides, and Nucleosides


In Drosophila, transposon-silencing piRNAs are derived from heterochromatic clusters and a subset of euchromatic transposon insertions, which are transcribed from internal non-canonical initiation sites and flanking canonical promoters. Rhino binds to Deadlock, which recruits TRF2 to promote non-canonical transcription of these loci. Cuff co-localizes with Rhino and Del. The role of Cuff is less well understood, but the cuff gene shows hallmarks of adaptive evolution, which frequently targets functional interactions within host defense systems. We show that Drosophila simulans cuff is a dominant negative allele when expressed in Drosophila melanogaster, where it traps Deadlock, TRF2 and the transcriptional co-repressor CtBP in stable nuclear complexes. Cuff promotes Rhino and Deadlock localization, driving non-canonical transcription. CtBP, by contrast, suppresses canonical cluster and transposon transcription, which interferes with downstream non-canonical transcription and piRNA production. Cuff, TRF2 and CtBP thus form a network that balances canonical and non-canonical piRNA precursor transcription.


genetics, adaptive evolution, piRNA, transcription network, drosophila, transposon, transcription

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The copyright holder for this preprint (which was not peer-reviewed) is the author/funder. It is made available under a CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 International license.

DOI of Published Version



bioRxiv 678227; doi: Link to preprint on bioRxiv service.

Related Resources

Now published in: Cell Reports, doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.01.109.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.