, Volume 2, Issue 5, pp 398-404

Histone H4 acetylated at lysine 16 and proteins of theDrosophila dosage compensation pathway co-localize on the male X chromosome through mitosis

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In the fruit flyDrosophila, dosage compensation involves several proteins acting in concert to double the transcriptional activity of genes on the single male X chromosome. Three of these proteins, MLE, MSL-1 and histone H4 acetylated at lysine 16 (H4Ac16), have recently been shown to be located almost exclusively on the male X chromosome in interphase (polytene) cells. We show here that in neuroblasts from third instarDrosophila larvae antisera to H4Ac16, MLE and MSL-1 uniquely label the distal, euchromatic region of the male X chromosome through mitosis. The centromere-proximal, heterochromatic region of the male X is not labelled with these antisera, nor are male autosomes or any chromosomes in female cells. That the association of H4Ac16 with the male X chromosome persists, even when the chromosome is maximally compacted and transcriptionally quiescent, argues that this modified histone is an integral component of the dosage compensation pathway. In the nuclei of interphase neuroblasts from male (but never female) larvae, antibodies to H4Ac16 revealed a small, brightly labelled patch against a background of generally weak nuclear staining. In double-labelling experiments, this patch was also labelled, albeit comparatively weakly, with antibodies to MSL-1. These results strongly suggest that the distal, euchromatic region of the X chromosome in male cells occupies a limited and relatively compact nuclear domain.