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Recent studies in mammals have documented the neural expression and mobility of retrotransposons and have suggested that neural genomes are diverse mosaics. We found that transposition occurs among memory-relevant neurons in the Drosophila brain. Cell type-specific gene expression profiling revealed that transposon expression is more abundant in mushroom body (MB) αβ neurons than in neighboring MB neurons. The Piwi-interacting RNA (piRNA) proteins Aubergine and Argonaute 3, known to suppress transposons in the fly germline, are expressed in the brain and appear less abundant in αβ MB neurons. Loss of piRNA proteins correlates with elevated transposon expression in the brain. Paired-end deep sequencing identified more than 200 de novo transposon insertions in αβ neurons, including insertions into memory-relevant loci. Our observations indicate that genomic heterogeneity is a conserved feature of the brain.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





91 - 95


Animals, Argonaute Proteins, Brain, Drosophila Proteins, Drosophila melanogaster, Gene Expression Regulation, Genome, Insect, Mushroom Bodies, Neurons, Peptide Initiation Factors, RNA, Small Interfering, Retroelements, Transcriptome