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Development. 2001 Oct;128(19):3809-17.

Facultative heterochromatization in parahaploid male mealybugs: involvement of a heterochromatin-associated protein.

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  • 1Dipartimento di Agrobiologia e Agrochimica, Universit√† della Tuscia, 01100 Viterbo, Italy.


The behavior of chromosomes during development of the mealybug Planococcus citri provides one of the most dramatic examples of facultative heterochromatization. In male embryos, the entire haploid paternal chromosome set becomes heterochromatic at mid-cleavage. Male mealybugs are thus functionally haploid, owing to heterochromatization (parahaploidy). To understand the mechanisms underlying facultative heterochromatization in male mealybugs, we have investigated the possible involvement of an HP-1-like protein in this process. HP-1 is a conserved, nonhistone chromosomal protein with a proposed role in heterochromatinization in other species. It was first identified in Drosophila melanogaster as a protein enriched in the constitutive heterochromatin of polytene chromosome. Using a monoclonal antibody raised against the Drosophila HP-1 in immunoblot and immunocytological experiments, we provide evidence for the presence of an HP-1-like in Planococcus citri males and females. In males, the HP-1-like protein is preferentially associated with the male-specific heterochromatin. In the developing male embryos, its appearance precedes the onset of heterochromatization. In females, the HP-1-like protein displays a scattered but reproducible localization pattern along chromosomes. The results indicate a role for an HP-1-like protein in the facultative heterochromatization process.

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