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Chromosoma. 1977 Apr 20;60(4):297-344.

The diminution of Heterochromatic chromosomal segments in Cyclops (Crustacea, Copepoda).


The chromosomes of Cyclops divulsus, C. furcifer, and C. strenuus, like those of several other Copepods, undergo a striking diminution of chromatin early in embryogenesis. The process is restricted to the presumptive soma cells and occurs at the 5th cleavage in C. divulsus, at the 6th and 7th in C. furcifer, and at the 4th in C. strenus. The eliminated chromatin derives from the excision of heterochromatic chromosome segments (H-segments). Their chromosomal location is different in the three investigated species: Whereas in C. divulsus and C. furcifer the H-segments form large blocks-exclusively terminal in the former and terminal as well as kinetochoric in the latter-the germ line heterochromatin in C. strenuus is scattered all along the chromosomes. Extensive polymorphism exists with respect to the length of the terminal H-segments in C. furcifer, and with respect to the overall content of heterochromatin in the chromosomes of C. strenuus. In a local race of C. strenuus an extreme form of dimorphism has been found which is sex limited: females as a fule are heterozygous for an entire set of large (heterochromatin-rich), and a second set of small chromosomes in their germ line. Males are homozygous for the large set. In the first three cleavage divisions the H-polymorphism is solely expressed through differences of chromosome length. Following diminution the differences between homologous have disappeared. Feulgen cytophotometry demonstrates that in the three species the 1C DNA value for the germ line, as measured in sperm, is about twice that measured in somatic mitoses (germ line/soma C-values in picograms of DNA: C. strenuus 2.2/0.9, C. furcifer 2.9/1.44, C. divulsus 3.1/1.8). - The data imply that chromatin diminution is based on a mechanism which allows specific DNA segments, regardless of their location and size, to be cut out from the chromosomes without affecting the structural continuity of the remaining DNA. The mechanism may be analogous to that of prokaryotic DNA excision.

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