The DNA content of translocated polytene chromosome regions in Drosophila melanogaster is affected by heterochromatic position effect. Microdensitometric studies on wm258-21 translocation heterozygotes showed (Hartmann-Goldstein and Cowell, 1976; Cowell and Hartmann Goldstein, 1980) that band region 3D1-E2, adjacent to the breakpoint, contained less DNA than the homologous non-translocated region whereas the neighbouring 3C1-10 region contained more DNA than its non-translocated counterpart. In the nuclei selected for measurement the translocated X chromosome was morphologically euchromatic, but both regions undergo heterochromatisation in other nuclei within the same salivary gland. To explore the relationship between changes in DNA content and heterochromatisation, the effect on DNA content of two known modifiers of heterochromatisation has now been studied. Larvae cultured at 15° C, which exhibit more heterochromatisation than those grown at 25° C, have the same relative DNA contents as at the higher temperature. The addition of a Y chromosome markedly reduced heterochromatisation; in XXY larvae there was no difference between the DNA contents of translocated and non-translocated 3D1-E2 regions, and in region 3C1-10 the percentage excess of DNA in the translocated homologue was approximately double that found in XX larvae. The relationship between replication behaviour and compaction suggested by these results is discussed.
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