Determination of DNA Content in the Nurse and Follicle Cells From Wild Type and Mutant Drosophila Melanogaster by DNA-Feulgen Cytophotometry

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DNA replication patterns in the nurse and follicle cells of wild type and a female sterile mutant, fs(1)1304, of Drosophila melanogaster have been studied by DNA-Feulgen cytophotometry, using a cell dispersal technique that allowed the measurement of DNA amounts in individual nuclei from egg chambers of known developmental stages. DNA-Feulgen values associated with various ovarian nuclei from egg chambers at different stages of development were used to assess a base line DNA content for ovarian tissues and to estimate the extent of DNA replication in the nurse cells and follicle cells of growing and mature egg chambers. Our data show that both the nurse and follicle cells undergo multiple cycles of endonuclear DNA replication and that there may be selective amplification as well as underreplication by portions of the genome in these highly polyploid, ovarian cells. Alternative models are proposed to account for the DNA replication patterns observed. Comparisons of DNA-Feulgen levels in wild type ovarian nuclei with those found for the fs(1)1304 mutant and its heterozygote in the balanced stock fs/FM3, show that equivalent DNA levels are present in follicle cell nuclei from all three types of females. Nurse cell nuclei in the homozygous fs stock, however, fail to achieve the same high DNA levels observed in both fs/FM3 and wild type nurse cell nuclei. Although the nuclei of follicle cells in ovaries from fs/fs females appear morphologically like those surrounding egg chambers in wild type ovaries, nurse cell nuclei from mutant females show a more compacted organization of their chromatin than found for nurse cell nuclei from wild type ovaries at similar developmental stages. Our findings suggest that a major effect of the fs(1)1304 mutation may be on the coiling behavior of chromatin and the conformation of DNA-protein moieties in both nurse cell and follicle cell nuclei. These changes in chromatin structure apparently are manifest by perturbations in DNA replication patterns and normal gene function in these biosynthetically active cells.