Two discrete modes of histone gene expression during oogenesis in Drosophila melanogaster

Linda Ambrosio, Paul Schedl

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26 Scopus citations


We have used in situ hybridization to ovarian tissue sections to study the pattern of histone gene expression during oogenesis in Drosophila melanogaster. Our studies suggest that there are two distinct phases of histone gene expression during oogenesis. In the first phase, which occurs during early to middle oogenesis (stages 5-10A), we observe a mosaic pattern of histone mRNA in the 15 nurse cells of the egg chamber: some cells have very high levels of mRNA, while others have little or no mRNA. Our analysis suggests that there is a cyclic accumulation and subsequent degradation of histone mRNA in the egg chamber and that very little histone mRNA is transported into the growing oocyte. Moreover, since the endomitotic replication cycles of the nurse cells are asynchronous during this period, the mosaic distribution of histone message would suggest that the expression of the histone genes in each nurse cell nucleus is probably coupled to DNA replication as in most somatic cells. The second phase begins at stage 10B. During this period, histone gene expression appears to be "induced" in all 15 nurse cells of the egg chamber, and instead of a mosaic pattern, high levels of histone mRNA are found in all cells. Unlike the earlier phase, this expression is apparently uncoupled from the endomitotic replication of the nurse cells (which are completed by the end of stage 10A). Moreover, much of the newly synthesized histone mRNA is transported from the nurse cells into the oocyte where it accumulates and is stored for use during early embryogenesis. Finally, we have also observed tightly clustered grains within nurse cell nuclei in non-denatured tissue sections. As was the case with cytoplasmic histone mRNA, there is a mosaic distribution of nuclear grains stages 5 to 10A, while at stage 10B, virtually all nurse cell nuclei have grain clusters. These grain clusters appear to be due to the hybridization of nurse cell histone gene DNA to our probe, and are localized in specific regions of the nucleus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)220-231
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1985

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology
  • Developmental Biology


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