Chromosome-specific regulatory mechanisms provide a model to understand the coordinated regulation of genes on entire chromosomes or on larger genomic regions. In fruit flies, two chromosome-wide systems have been characterized: The male-specific lethal (MSL) complex, which mediates dosage compensation and primarily acts on the male X-chromosome, and Painting of fourth (POF), which governs chromosome-specific regulation of genes located on the 4th chromosome. How targeting of one specific chromosome evolves is still not understood; but repeated sequences, in forms of satellites and transposable elements, are thought to facilitate the evolution of chromosome-specific targeting. The highly repetitive 1.688 satellite has been functionally connected to both these systems. Considering the rapid evolution and the necessarily constant adaptation of regulatory mechanisms, such as dosage compensation, we hypothesised that POF and/or 1.688 may still show traces of dosage-compensation functions. Here, we test this hypothesis by transcriptome analysis. We show that loss of Pof decreases not only chromosome 4 expression but also reduces the X-chromosome expression in males. The 1.688 repeat deletion, Zhr1 (Zygotic hybrid rescue), does not affect male dosage compensation detectably; however, Zhr1 in females causes a stimulatory effect on X-linked genes with a strong binding affinity to the MSL complex (genes close to high-affinity sites). Lack of pericentromeric 1.688 also affected 1.688 expression in trans and was linked to the differential expression of genes involved in eggshell formation. We discuss our results with reference to the connections between POF, the 1.688 satellite and dosage compensation, and the role of the 1.688 satellite in hybrid lethality.
Keywords: Drosophila melanogaster; dosage compensation; epigenetics; heterochromatin; painting of fourth; satellite DNA.