, Volume 99, Issue 6, pp 391–400 | Cite as

Chromosomal structure is altered by mutations that suppress or enhance position effect variegation

  • S. Hayashi
  • A. Ruddell
  • D. Sinclair
  • T. Grigliatti


We examined the genetic, morphological, and molecular effects of position effect variegation inDrosophila, and the effects of mutations that either suppress [Su(var)] or enhance [E(var)] this phenomenon. All eightSu(var) mutations examined strongly suppress the inactivation of variegating alleles of the genes white [In(l) w m4 ], brown [In (2R)bw VDe2 ] and Stubble [T(2;3)Sb V ]. TheE(var) mutation enhances variegation of these loci. The chromosomal region 3C-E (26 bands) which includes the white locus is usually packaged as heterochromatin in salivary glands of the variegating strainw m4 . Addition of any of theSu(var) mutations restores a more euchromatic morphology to this region. In situ hybridization to polytene chromosomes and DNA blot analyses of gene copy number demonstrate that the DNA of thew+ gene is less accessible to its probe in the variegatingw m4 strain than it is in the wildtype or variegation-suppressed strains. Blot analysis of larval salivary gland DNA indicates that the white gene copy number does not vary among the strains. Hence, the differences in binding of thew+ gene probe in the variegating and variegation-suppressed strains reflect differences in chromosomal packaging rather than alterations in gene number. The effects of variegation and theSu(var) mutations on chromatin structure were analyzed further by DNAse I digestion and DNA blot hybridization. In contrast to their dramatic effects on chromosomal morphology and gene expression, theSu(var) mutations had negligible effects on nuclease sensitivity of the white gene chromatin. We suggest that the changes in gene expression resulting from position effect variegation and the action of theSu(var) mutations involve alterations in chromosomal packaging.


Salivary Gland Gene Copy Number Blot Hybridization Chromosomal Structure Polytene Chromosome 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Hayashi
    • 1
  • A. Ruddell
    • 1
  • D. Sinclair
    • 1
  • T. Grigliatti
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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