A Spontaneous Inversion of the X Chromosome Heterochromatin Provides a Tool for Studying the Structure and Activity of the Nucleolus in Drosophila melanogaster

Tatyana D. Kolesnikova, Mikhail S. Klenov, Alina R. Nokhova, Sergey A. Lavrov, Galina V. Pokholkova, Veit Schubert, Svetlana V. Maltseva, Kevin R. Cook, Michael J. Dixon, Igor F. Zhimulev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The pericentromeric heterochromatin is largely composed of repetitive sequences, making it difficult to analyze with standard molecular biological methods. At the same time, it carries many functional elements with poorly understood mechanisms of action. The search for new experimental models for the analysis of heterochromatin is an urgent task. In this work, we used the Rif1 mutation, which suppresses the underreplication of all types of repeated sequences, to analyze heterochromatin regions in polytene chromosomes of Drosophila melanogaster. In the Rif1 background, we discovered and described in detail a new inversion, In(1)19EHet, which arose on a chromosome already carrying the In(1)sc8 inversion and transferred a large part of X chromosome heterochromatin, including the nucleolar organizer to a new euchromatic environment. Using nanopore sequencing and FISH, we have identified the eu- and heterochromatin breakpoints of In(1)19EHet. The combination of the new inversion and the Rif1 mutation provides a promising tool for studies of X chromosome heterochromatin structure, nucleolar organization, and the nucleolar dominance phenomenon. In particular, we found that, with the complete polytenization of rDNA repeats, the nucleolus consists of a cloud-like structure corresponding to the classical nucleolus of polytene chromosomes, as well as an unusual intrachromosomal structure containing alternating transcriptionally active and inactive regions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3872
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • heterochromatin
  • In(1)sc
  • inversion
  • nucleolus
  • polytene chromosomes
  • Rif1
  • underreplication
  • Heterochromatin/genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins/genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster/genetics
  • Repetitive Sequences, Nucleic Acid/genetics
  • X Chromosome/genetics
  • Animals
  • Nucleolus Organizer Region
  • Carrier Proteins/genetics



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