Mutations in the maternal-effect gene abnormal chromatin (abc) in Drosophila melanogaster result in a variety of defects involving nuclear replication/division. Three recessive alleles of this gene, which maps near 51F on chromosome 2, all result in female sterility. They cause slower embryonic development that is usually abnormal from the earliest nuclear divisions and arrested by the sixth one. Nuclei tend to be large and erratically distributed, some intensely staining. Mitotic asynchrony is common. Few embryos reach the gastrula stage and none hatch. With the weakest allele, fsPL, bridges between nuclei are common; abnormal chromatin clumps that resemble yolk nuclei occur before the other nuclei reach the surface; and spindle anomalies and DNA wads with numerons centrosomes are seen. Females with the stronger alleles, fsA5 and fs27, lay fewer eggs and a smaller proportion of embryos reach blastoderm; developmental arrest occurs earlier, usually with several large nuclei distributed along the length of the embryo. Chorion defects occur in all three mutants. Mitotic asynchrony, nuclear bridging, endoreduplication and nuclear behavior aberrant from the first division suggest that the abc gene product operates in DNA replication/nuclear division. Larval (homozygous F 1) neuroblast chromosome structure and mitotic indices are normal, indicating that any mitotic function is strictly maternal, i.e. abc is not a general mitotic gene. Thus abc is one of a few known genes with a maternal effect that appears to function in the embryonic cell cycle.
- cell cycle,
- maternal-effect mutant
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