Chromosome structure and DNA replication in nurse and follicle cells of Drosophila melanogaster

Chromosoma. 1985;91(3-4):267-78. doi: 10.1007/BF00328222.


In the nurse cells of Drosophila, nuclear DNA is replicated many times without nuclear division. Nurse cells differ from salivary gland cells, another type of endoreplicated Drosophila cell, in that banded polytene chromosomes are not seen in large nurse cells. Cytophotometry of Feulgen stained nurse cell nuclei that have also been labeled with 3H-thymidine shows that the DNA contents between S-phases are not doublings of the diploid value. In situ hybridization of cloned probes for 28S + 18S ribosomal RNA, 5S RNA, and histone genes, and for satellite, copia, and telomere sequences shows that satellite and histone sequences replicate only partially during nurse cell growth, while 5S sequences fully replicate. However, during the last nurse cell endoreplication cycle, all sequences including the previously under-replicated satellite sequences replicate fully. In situ hybridization experiments also demonstrate that the loci for the multiple copies of histone and 5S RNA genes are clustered into a small number of sites. In contrast, 28S + 18S rRNA genes are dispersed. We discuss the implications of the observed distribution of sequences within nurse cell nuclei for interphase nuclear organization. In the ovarian follicle cells, which undergo only two or three endoreplication cycles, satellite, histone and ribosomal DNA sequences are also found by in situ hybridization to be underrepresented; satellite sequences may not replicate beyond their level in 2C cells. Hence the pathways of endoreplication in three cell types, salivary gland, nurse, and follicle cells, share basic features of DNA replication, and differ primarily in the extent of association of the duplicated chromatids.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromosomes / physiology
  • Chromosomes / ultrastructure
  • DNA Replication*
  • DNA, Ribosomal / genetics
  • DNA, Satellite / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genes
  • Histones / genetics
  • Oogenesis*
  • Ovarian Follicle / physiology
  • Repetitive Sequences, Nucleic Acid


  • DNA, Ribosomal
  • DNA, Satellite
  • Histones