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Annu Rev Genet 14: 121-44 (1980)[81158738]

Molecular arrangement and evolution of heterochromatic DNA.

D. L. Brutlag


Analyses of the sequence organization and nucleotide sequence of highly repeated heterochromatic DNAs have recently given insight into the mechanisms whereby these DNAs change during evolution. These mechanisms have important implications that limit the possible functions of tandemly repeated regions in heterochromatin. Moreover, the use of cloned segments of heterochromatic DNA combined with classical genetic and cytogenetic methods now allow critical tests of the role of such sequences in the many known functions of heterochromatin such as, position effect variegation, chromosome pairing, meiotic recombination, and chromosome segregation.

This review describes recent results and conclusions obtained from studies of highly repeated heterochromatic DNA sequences by restriction endonuclease cleavage, by nucleotide sequence determination, and from examination of segments of heterochromatic DNA cloned in recombinant plasmids. These results are discussed in terms of their implication for possible modes of change and for possible function, and hence selection, during the evolutionary process.

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