Identifying a single-copy DNA sequence associated with the expression of a heterochromatic gene, the light locus of Drosophila melanogaster

Genome. 1990 Jun;33(3):405-15. doi: 10.1139/g90-062.


Although little is known about the molecular organization of most genes within heterochromatin, the unusual properties of these chromosomal regions suggest that genes therein may be organized and expressed very differently from those in euchromatin. We report here the cloning, by P transposon tagging, of sequences associated with the expression of the light locus, an essential gene found in the heterochromatin of chromosome 2 of Drosophila melanogaster. We conclude that this DNA is either a segment of the light locus, or a closely linked, heterochromatic sequence affecting its expression. While other functional DNA sequences previously described in heterochromatin have been repetitive, light gene function may be associated, at least in part, with single-copy DNA. This conclusion is based upon analysis of DNA from mutations and reversions induced by P transposable elements. The cloned region is unusual in that this single-copy DNA is embedded within middle-repetitive sequences. The in situ hybridization experiments also show that, unlike most other sequences in heterochromatin, this light-associated DNA evidently replicates in polytene chromosomes, but its diffuse hybridization signal may suggest an unusual chromosomal organization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA / genetics*
  • DNA / isolation & purification
  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Eye Color / genetics
  • Female
  • Gene Expression*
  • Heterochromatin*
  • Male
  • Mutation
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • Restriction Mapping


  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Heterochromatin
  • DNA