Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


UC San Francisco Previously Published Works bannerUCSF

TALE-light imaging reveals maternally guided, H3K9me2/3-independent emergence of functional heterochromatin in Drosophila embryos


Metazoans start embryogenesis with a relatively naïve genome. The transcriptionally inert, late-replicating heterochromatic regions, including the constitutive heterochromatin on repetitive sequences near centromeres and telomeres, need to be re-established during development. To explore the events initiating heterochromatin formation and examine their temporal control, sequence specificity, and immediate regulatory consequence, we established a live imaging approach that enabled visualization of steps in heterochromatin emergence on specific satellite sequences during the mid-blastula transition (MBT) in Drosophila. Unexpectedly, only a subset of satellite sequences, including the 359-base-pair (bp) repeat sequence, recruited HP1a at the MBT. The recruitment of HP1a to the 359-bp repeat was dependent on HP1a's chromoshadow domain but not its chromodomain and was guided by maternally provided signals. HP1a recruitment to the 359-bp repeat was required for its programmed shift to later replication, and ectopic recruitment of HP1a was sufficient to delay replication timing of a different repeat. Our results reveal that emergence of constitutive heterochromatin follows a stereotyped developmental program in which different repetitive sequences use distinct interactions and independent pathways to arrive at a heterochromatic state. This differential emergence of heterochromatin on various repetitive sequences changes their replication order and remodels the DNA replication schedule during embryonic development.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View