Cytological studies of heterochromatin function in the Drosophila melanogaster male: autosomal meiotic paring

Chromosoma. 1979 May 10;72(3):293-328. doi: 10.1007/BF00331091.


In Drosophila melanogaster it is now documented that the different satellite DNA sequences make up the majority of the centromeric heterochromatin of all chromosomes. The most popular hypothesis on this class of DNA is that satellite DNA itself is important to the pairing processes of chromosomes. Evidence in support of such a hypothesis is, however, circumstantial. This hypothesis has been evaluated by direct cytological examination of the meiotic behaviour of heterochromatically and/or euchromatically rear-ranged autosomes in the male. It was found that neither substantial deletions nor rearrangements of the autosomal heterochromatin cause any disruption of meiotic pairing. Autosomal pairing depends on homologs retaining sufficient euchromatic homology. This is the first clear demonstration that the highly repeated satellite DNA sequences in the heterochromatin of the second, third and fourth chromosomes are not important in meiotic pairing, but rather than some euchromatic homology in the autosome is essential to ensure a regular meiotic process. These results on the autosomes, when taken in conjunction with our previous studies on sex chromosome pairing, clearly indicate that satellite DNA is not crucial for male meiotic chromosome pairing of any member of the D. melanogaster genome.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromosome Aberrations
  • Chromosomes / physiology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Heterochromatin / physiology*
  • Male
  • Meiosis*


  • Heterochromatin