The vast majority, of the >100 modifier genes of position-effect variegation (PEV) in Drosophila have been identified genetically as haplo-insufficient loci. Here, we describe pitkinDominant (ptnD), a gain-of-function enhancer mutation of PEV. Its exceptionally strong enhancer effect is evident as elevated spreading of heterochromatin-induced gene silencing along euchromatic regions in variegating rearrangements. The ptnD mutation causes ectopic binding of the SU(VAR)3-9 heterochromatin protein at many euchromatic sites and, unlike other modifiers of PEV, it also affects stable position effects. Specifically, it induces silencing of white+ transgenes inserted at a wide variety of euchromatic sites. ptnD is associated with dominant female sterility. +/+ embryos produced by ptnD/+ females mated with wild-type males die at the end of embryogenesis, whereas the ptnD/+ sibling embryos arrest development at cleavage cycle 1-3, due to a combined effect of maternally provided mutant product and an early zygotic lethal effect of ptnD. This is the earliest zygotic effect of a mutation so far reported in Drosophila. Germ-line mosaics show that ptn+ function is required for normal development in the female germ line. These results, together with effects on PEV and white+ transgenes, are consistent with the hypothesis that the ptn gene plays an important role in chromatin regulation during development of the female germ line and in early embryogenesis.
|Number of pages||18|
|Publication status||Published - Mar 31 2001|
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