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Cell. 1996 May 31;85(5):745-59.

Perturbation of nuclear architecture by long-distance chromosome interactions.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143-0554, USA.



Position-effect variegation (PEV) describes the stochastic transcriptional silencing of a gene positioned adjacent to heterochromatin. Using FISH, we have tested whether variegated expression of the eye-color gene brown in Drosophila is influenced by its nuclear localization. In embryonic nuclei, a heterochromatic insertion at the brown locus is always spatially isolated from other heterochromatin. However, during larval development this insertion physically associates with other heterochromatic regions on the same chromosome in a stochastic manner. These observations indicate that the brown gene is silenced by specific contact with centromeric heterochromatin. Moreover, they provide direct evidence for long-range chromosome interactions and their impact on three-dimensional nuclear architecture, while providing a cohesive explanation for the phenomenon of PEV.

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