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Genetics. Feb 2002; 160(2): 509–517.
PMCID: PMC1461961

Cytogenetic analysis of the third chromosome heterochromatin of Drosophila melanogaster.


Previous cytological analysis of heterochromatic rearrangements has yielded significant insight into the location and genetic organization of genes mapping to the heterochromatin of chromosomes X, Y, and 2 of Drosophila melanogaster. These studies have greatly facilitated our understanding of the genetic organization of heterochromatic genes. In contrast, the 12 essential genes known to exist within the mitotic heterochromatin of chromosome 3 have remained only imprecisely mapped. As a further step toward establishing a complete map of the heterochomatic genetic functions in Drosophila, we have characterized several rearrangements of chromosome 3 by using banding techniques at the level of mitotic chromosome. Most of the rearrangement breakpoints were located in the dull fluorescent regions h49, h51, and h58, suggesting that these regions correspond to heterochromatic hotspots for rearrangements. We were able to construct a detailed cytogenetic map of chromosome 3 heterochromatin that includes all of the known vital genes. At least 7 genes of the left arm (from l(3)80Fd to l(3)80Fj) map to segment h49-h51, while the most distal genes (from l(3)80Fa to l(3)80Fc) lie within the h47-h49 portion. The two right arm essential genes, l(3)81Fa and l(3)81Fb, are both located within the distal h58 segment. Intriguingly, a major part of chromosome 3 heterochromatin was found to be "empty," in that it did not contain either known genes or known satellite DNAs.

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Selected References

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