Invasion of the P elements: Tolerance is not futile

by Colin D. Meiklejohn, Justin P. Blumenstiel

Organisms are locked in an eternal struggle with parasitic DNA sequences that live inside their genomes and wreak havoc on their host’s chromosomes as they spread through populations. To combat these parasites, host species have evolved elaborate mechanisms of resistance that suppress their activity. A new study in Drosophila indicates that, prior to the acquisition of resistance, individuals can vary in their ability to tolerate the activity of these genomic parasites, ignoring or repairing the damage they induce. This tolerance results from variation at genes involved in germline development and DNA damage checkpoints and suggests that these highly conserved cellular processes may be influenced by current and historical intragenomic parasite loads.

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