Drosophila Telomeres Group


Research Interest

My group focuses on the study of how transposable elements interact with the eukaryote genome and how these interactions can actively contribute to evolution. To study this we use the telomeres of Drosophila as a model.

Although the telomeres of Drosophila are functionally equivalent to telomerase telomeres, they are maintained by an alternative mechanism. Instead of telomerase, Drosophila uses three non-LTR retrotransposons, HeT-A, TART and TAHRE to elongate the end of the chromosomes when need it. These very special retrotransposons maintain their personality as transposons but at the same time are committed to maintain the telomeres in Drosophila. Telomere maintenance is crucial for processes as important as aging, tumorogenesis and genome stability.

In my group we are studying different aspects of telomere elongation in Drosophila and the consequences for telomere and retrotransposons evolution.

See more detailed information in current lines of research at the Research section.

Selected publications

-R.Silva Sousa., E.López-Panadès., E.Casacuberta. Drosophila telomeres: An example of co-evolution with transposable elements. (2010) Genome Dynamics 7.

-D.Piñeyro., E.López-Panadès., M.Lucena., E.Casacuberta. Transcriptional analysis of the HeT-A retrotransposonin mutant and wild type stocks, reveals extreme sequence variability at Drosophila telomeres and other unusual features. (2011) BMC Genomics 12, 573.

-N.Petit., D.Piñeyro., E.López-Panadès., *E.Casacuberta., *A.Navarro. HeT_A_pi1, a piRNA target sequence in the Drosophila telomeric retrotransposon HeT-A, is extremely conserved across copies and species. (2012) PLoS ONE 7, e37405.

- R.Silva Sousa., E.López-Panadès., D.Piñeyro., E.Casacuberta. Jil-1 and Z4, two chromosomal proteins with a dual role at Drosophila telomeres. (2012). PLoS Genetics 12, e1003153.

- E.Casacuberta., J.González. The impact of transposable elements in environmental adaptation TEs and host/organisms/genome adaptation to environmental changes. (2013). Molecular Ecology 6, 1503-1517.

- R.Silva Sousa., M.Díaz Varela., E.Casacuberta. The Putzig partners DREF, TRF2 and KEN are involved in the regulation of the Drosophila telomere retrotransposons, HeT-A and TART. (2013) Mobile DNA 4, 10.1186/1759-8753-4-18.

- R.Silva Sousa., E.Casacuberta. The JIL-1 kinase affects telomere expression in the different telomere domains of Drosophila. (2013) PLoS One 8, e81543.


Elena Casacuberta

Research Scientist at Consejo Superior de  Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)