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Mol Cell Biol. 1989 Mar; 9(3): 1173–1182.
PMCID: PMC362708

Nonrandom distribution of long mono- and dinucleotide repeats in Drosophila chromosomes: correlations with dosage compensation, heterochromatin, and recombination.


Long stretches of (dC-dA)n.(dT-dG)n, abbreviated CA/TG, have a distinctive distribution on Drosophila chromosomes (M.L. Pardue, K. Lowenhaupt, A. Rich, and A. Nordheim, EMBO J. 6:1781-1789, 1987). The distribution of CA/TG suggests a correlation with the overall transcriptional activity of chromosomal regions and with the ability to undergo meiotic recombination. These correlations are conserved among Drosophila species and may indicate one or more chromosomal functions. To test the generality of these findings, we analyzed the distribution of the rest of the six possible mono- and dinucleotide repeats (A/T, C/G, AT/AT, CA/TG, CT/AG, and CG/CG). All but CG/CG were present at significant levels in the genomes of the six Drosophila species studied; however, A/T levels were an order of magnitude lower than those of the other sequences. Data base analyses suggested that the same sequences are present in other eucaryotes. Like CA/TG, both CT/AG and C/G showed increased levels on dosage-compensating chromosomes; however, the individual sites clearly differed for each sequence. In contrast, A/T and AT/AT, although present in Drosophila DNA, could not be detected in situ in polytene chromosomes. We also used in situ hybridization to analyze the neo-Y chromosome of Drosophila miranda, an ancestral autosome that has become attached to the Y chromosome and is now partially heterochromatic. The neo-Y has acquired repeated DNA sequences; we found that the added sequences are as devoid of mono- and dinucleotide repeats as other heterochromatin. The distribution and function of these sequences are likely to result from both their repetitious nature and base contents.

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