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Genetics. 1988 Oct;120(2):519-32.

Genetic Analysis of the Heterochromatin of Chromosome 3 in Drosophila Melanogaster. II. Vital Loci Identified through Ems Mutagenesis.

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  • 1Department of Zoology, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6T 2A9.


Chromosome 3 of Drosophila melanogaster contains the last major blocks of heterochromatin in this species to be genetically analyzed. Deficiencies of heterochromatin generated through the detachment of compound-3 chromosomes revealed the presence of vital loci in the heterochromatin of chromosome 3, but an extensive complementation analysis with various combinations of lethal and nonlethal detachment products gave no evidence of tandemly repeated vital genes in this region. These findings indicate that the heterochromatin of chromosome 3 is genetically similar to that of chromosome 2. A more thorough genetic analysis of the heterochromatic regions has been carried out using the chemical mutagen ethyl methanesulfonate (EMS). Seventy-five EMS-induced lethals allelic to loci uncovered by detachment-product deficiencies were recovered and tested for complementation. In total, 12 complementation groups were identified, ten in the heterochromatin to the left of the centromere and two to the right. All but two complementation groups in the left heterochromatic block could be identified as separate loci through deficiency mapping. The interallelic complementation observed between some EMS-induced lethals, as well as the recovery of a temperature-sensitive allele for each of the two loci, provided further evidence that single-copy, transcribed vital genes reside in the heterochromatin of chromosome 3. Cytological analysis of three detachment-product deficiencies provided evidence that at least some of the genes uncovered in this study are located in the most distal segments of the heterochromatin in both arms. This study provides a detailed genetic analysis of chromosome 3 heterochromatin and offers further information on the genetic nature and heterogeneity of Drosophila heterochromatin.

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