Ribosomal RNA genes of Drosophila melanogaster have a novel chromatin structure

Andor Udvardy, Christos Louis, Stella Han, Paul Schedl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


We have examined the chromatin organization of the Drosophila melanogaster ribosomal RNA genes using both micrococcal nuclease and DNase I. Several findings are of interest. First, the transcribed DNA segments of the rRNA repeat unit appear to be packaged into an unstable or "multiphasic" nucleosome structure. Second, the 5′ end of the transcription unit is preferentially exposed to nuclease attack. Third, the non-transcribed spacer immediately upstream from the transcription start site has a novel chromatin organization with micrococcal nuclease and DNase I cleavage sites spaced at intervals of about 240 base-pairs. This unusual fragment distribution appears to reflect the underlying sequence organization of the spacer DNA segment, which consists of a series of tandemly repeated 239 base-pair sequence blocks. We have also examined the chromatin structure of the rRNA repeat unit after extraction of nuclei with different concentrations of salt. Our results suggest that the higher order structures may be of importance in determining the novel chromatin organization of the rRNA repeat unit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-130
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 15 1984

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Structural Biology


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