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Genetics. 1997 Apr;145(4):1031-40.

The developmental genetics of hybrid inviability: a mitotic defect in Drosophila hybrids.

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of Rochester, NY 14627, USA.


We report studies of the developmental basis of hybrid inviability in the Drosophila melanogaster complex. The pathology of these hybrids closely resembles that of mitotic mutants in D. melanogaster. We use mosaic and cytological analyses to show that hybrid male inviability is associated with, and probably caused by, a defect in mitotic cell division. In the mosaic study, we find that male clones produced in otherwise female hybrids are not cell lethal but are very small, probably reflecting defects in mitotic proliferation. Cytological inspection of larval neuroblasts reveals a profound mitotic defect in hybrids: chromosomes show a near-complete failure to condense even after 2 hr of incubation in colchicine. Both the defect in clonal proliferation and in chromatin condensation are rescued by mutations known to rescue normally inviable hybrid males. We present a simple model in which hybrid inviability is partly or entirely caused by a mitotic defect; this defect is, in turn, caused by an interaction between the Hybrid male rescue (Hmr) locus of D. melanogaster and autosomal gene(s) from D. melanogaster's sister species.

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