The Drosophila salivary gland chromocenter contains highly polytenized subdomains of mitotic heterochromatin

P. Zhang, A. C. Spradling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Peri-centromeric regions of Drosophila melanogaster chromosomes appear heterochimeric in mitotic cells and become greatly underrepresented in giant polytene chromosomes, where they aggregate into a central mass called the chromocenter. We used P elements inserted at sites dispersed throughout much of the mitotic heterochromatin to analyze the fate of 31 individual sites during polytenization. Analysis of DNA sequences flanking many of these elements revealed that middle repetitive or unique sequence DNAs frequently are interspersed with satellite DNAs in mitotic heterochromatin. All nine Y chromosome sites tested were underrepresented >20-fold on Southern blots of polytene DNA and were rarely or never detected by in situ hybridization to salivary gland chromosomes. In contrast, nine tested insertions in autosomal centromeric heterochromatin were represented fully in salivary gland DNA, despite the fact that at least six were located proximal to known blocks of satellite DNA. The inserted sequences formed diverse, site-specific morphologies in the chromocenter of salivary gland chromosomes, suggesting that domains dispersed at multiple sites in the centromeric heterochromatin of mitotic chromosomes contribute to polytene β-heterochromatin. We suggest that regions containing heterochromatic genes are organized into dispersed chromatin configurations that are important for their function in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)659-670
Number of pages12
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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