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The onset of homologous chromosome pairing during Drosophila melanogaster embryogenesis.


We have determined the position within the nucleus of homologous sites of the histone gene cluster in Drosophila melanogaster using in situ hybridization and high-resolution, three-dimensional wide field fluorescence microscopy. A 4.8-kb biotinylated probe for the histone gene repeat, located approximately midway along the short arm of chromosome 2, was hybridized to whole-mount embryos in late syncytial and early cellular blastoderm stages. Our results show that the two homologous histone loci are distinct and separate through all stages of the cell cycle up to nuclear cycle 13. By dramatic contrast, the two homologous clusters were found to colocalize with high frequency during interphase of cycle 14. Concomitant with homolog pairing at cycle 14, both histone loci were also found to move from their position near the midline of the nucleus toward the apical side. This result suggests that coincident with the initiation of zygotic transcription, there is dramatic chromosome and nuclear reorganization between nuclear cycles 13 and 14.

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