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Chromosoma. 2001 Dec;110(7):487-500. Epub 2001 Sep 15.

Electron microscope mapping of the pericentric and intercalary heterochromatic regions of the polytene chromosomes of the mutant Suppressor of underreplication in Drosophila melanogaster.

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Institute of Cytology and Genetics of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Novosibirsk 630090, Russia.


Breaks and ectopic contacts in the heterochromatic regions of Drosophila melanogaster polytene chromosomes are the manifestations of the cytological effects of DNA underreplication. Their appearance makes these regions difficult to map. The Su(UR)ES gene, which controls the phenomenon, has been described recently. Mutation of this locus gives rise to new blocks of material in the pericentric heterochromatic regions and causes the disappearance of breaks and ectopic contacts in the intercalary heterochromatic regions, thereby making the banding pattern distinct and providing better opportunities for mapping of the heterochromatic regions in polytene chromosomes. Here, we present the results of an electron microscope study of the heterochromatic regions. In the wild-type salivary glands, the pericentric regions correspond to the beta-heterochromatin and do not show the banding pattern. The most conspicuous cytological effect of the Su(UR)ES mutation is the formation of a large banded chromosome fragment comprising at least 25 bands at the site where the 3L and 3R proximal arms connect. In the other pericentric regions, 20CF, 40BF and 41BC, 15, 12 and 9 new bands were revealed, respectively. A large block of densely packed material appears in the most proximal part of the fourth chromosome. An electron microscope analysis of 26 polytene chromosome regions showing the characteristic features of intercalary heterochromatin was also performed. Suppression of DNA underreplication in the mutant transforms the bands with weak spots into large single bands.

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