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Genetics. Dec 1988; 120(4): 1015–1034.
PMCID: PMC1203565

Y Chromosome Loops in Drosophila Melanogaster


Primary spermatocyte nuclei of fixed testes of Drosophila melanogaster exhibit three large clusters of thread-like structures, each consisting of two long, continuous, loop-shaped filaments. No comparable intranuclear structures are observed in spermatogonia, secondary spermatocytes or spermatids. The threads begin to form in young spermatocytes, grow throughout spermatocyte development, reach their maximum size in mature spermatocytes and disintegrate prior to meiotic metaphase I. The presence of each cluster of threads depends upon the presence of a specific region of the Y chromosome; when this region is deleted the cluster is absent, and when it is duplicated the cluster is also duplicated. Together these observations strongly suggest that these structures represent giant Y chromosome lampbrush-like loops analogous to those described in Drosophila hydei. Two antibodies, one polyclonal and one monoclonal, differentially react with the three loops of D. melanogaster. Moreover, two of these loops are specifically stained by Giemsa at pH 10. By indirect immunofluorescence with these antibodies followed by Giemsa staining, each loop can be unambiguously identified and its presence and normality readily assessed. This enabled us to perform fine mapping experiments to determine the relationships between the Y chromosome fertility factors and the loops. The loop-forming sites map within the kl-5, kl-3 and ks-1 fertility factors. Regions h3 and h21 of the Y chromosome correspond to the loop-forming sites of kl-5 and ks-1, respectively. Each of these regions contains about 1300 kb of DNA and spans about one-third of its locus. The loop-forming site of the kl-3 locus is coextensive with region h7-h9 which contains about 4300 kb of DNA and corresponds to the minimum physical size of this locus. These data suggest that each loop is an integral part of a different fertility factor, representing the cytological manifestation of its activity in primary spermatocytes. The kl-2, kl-1 and ks-2 fertility regions do not produce any visible intranuclear structure and do not affect the kl-5, kl-3 and ks-1 loops. Thus, these loci may either not form loops at all or produce loop-like structures that we are unable to see because they are physically minute, destroyed by our fixation procedure, or both.

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Selected References

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