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Genetics. Nov 1992; 132(3): 737–753.
PMCID: PMC1205211

Analysis of Subtelomeric Heterochromatin in the Drosophila Minichromosome Dp1187 by Single P Element Insertional Mutagenesis

Abstract

We investigated whether single P element insertional mutagenesis could be used to analyze heterochromatin within the Drosophila minichromosome Dp1187. Forty-five insertions of the P[lacZ,rosy(+)] element onto Dp1187 (recovered among 7,825 transpositions) were highly clustered. None was recovered in centromeric heterochromatin, but 39 occurred about 40 kb from the distal telomere within a 4.7-kb hotspot containing tandem copies of a novel 1.8-kb repetitive DNA sequence. The DNA within and distal to this region lacked essential genes and displayed several other properties characteristic of heterochromatin. The rosy(+) genes within the inserted transposons were inhibited by position-effect variegation, and the subtelomeric region was underrepresented in polytene salivary gland cells. These experiments demonstrated that P elements preferentially transpose into a small subset of heterochromatic sites, providing a versatile method for studying the structure and function of these chromosome regions. This approach revealed that a Drosophila chromosome contains a large region of subtelomeric heterochromatin with specific structural and genetic properties.

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Selected References

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