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Genetics. 1993 Aug;134(4):1149-74.

Mapping simple repeated DNA sequences in heterochromatin of Drosophila melanogaster.

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  • 1Department of Genetics, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110.


Heterochromatin in Drosophila has unusual genetic, cytological and molecular properties. Highly repeated DNA sequences (satellites) are the principal component of heterochromatin. Using probes from cloned satellites, we have constructed a chromosome map of 10 highly repeated, simple DNA sequences in heterochromatin of mitotic chromosomes of Drosophila melanogaster. Despite extensive sequence homology among some satellites, chromosomal locations could be distinguished by stringent in situ hybridizations for each satellite. Only two of the localizations previously determined using gradient-purified bulk satellite probes are correct. Eight new satellite localizations are presented, providing a megabase-level chromosome map of one-quarter of the genome. Five major satellites each exhibit a multi-chromosome distribution, and five minor satellites hybridize to single sites on the Y chromosome. Satellites closely related in sequence are often located near one another on the same chromosome. About 80% of Y chromosome DNA is composed of nine simple repeated sequences, in particular (AAGAC)n (8 Mb), (AAGAG)n (7 Mb) and (AATAT)n (6 Mb). Similarly, more than 70% of the DNA in chromosome 2 heterochromatin is composed of five simple repeated sequences. We have also generated a high resolution map of satellites in chromosome 2 heterochromatin, using a series of translocation chromosomes whose breakpoints in heterochromatin were ordered by N-banding. Finally, staining and banding patterns of heterochromatic regions are correlated with the locations of specific repeated DNA sequences. The basis for the cytochemical heterogeneity in banding appears to depend exclusively on the different satellite DNAs present in heterochromatin.

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