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Thakar, R., Csink, A.K. (2005). Changing chromatin dynamics and nuclear organization during differentiation in Drosophila larval tissue.  J. Cell Sci. 118(Pt 5): 951--960.
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Global changes in gene expression and exit from the cell cycle underlie differentiation. Therefore, understanding chromatin behavior in differentiating nuclei and late G1 is key to understanding this developmental event. A nuclear event that has been shown to specifically occur in late G1 is the association of two heterochromatic blocks in Drosophila. The brown(Dominant) (bw(D)) chromosome of Drosophila melanogaster contains a large block of heterochromatin near the end of 2R. This distal block associates with centric heterochromatin (2Rh), but not until at least 5 hours into G1. We used the bw(D) allele as a model for nuclear organization to determine whether its association with the heterochromatic compartment of the second chromosomes (2Rh) strictly requires differentiation or if this change is a stochastic event, its occurrence being proportional to time spent in G1/G0 phase of the cell cycle. Fluorescence in situ hybridization on eye imaginal discs showed increased association between the bw locus and 2Rh in differentiated cells. Interestingly, an increase in the number of nuclei showing bw(D)-2Rh association in the brains of developmentally delayed larvae that were compromised for differentiation was also observed. Live fluorescence imaging showed that the kinetics of chromatin movement remains unchanged in the developmentally arrested nuclei. These observations suggest that nuclear reorganization is not directly controlled by specific inductive signals during differentiation and that this nuclear reorganization can happen in a cell, regardless of differentiation state, that is arrested in the appropriate cell cycle stage. However, we did see changes that appear to be more directly correlated with differentiation. Dynamic imaging in eye imaginal discs showed that the movement of chromatin is more constrained in differentiated cells, implying that confinement of loci to a smaller nuclear space may help to maintain the changed organization and the transcription profile that accompanies differentiation.

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    J. Cell Sci.
    Journal of Cell Science
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