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Open Access Research article

Novel simple sequence repeats (SSRs) detected by ND-FISH in heterochromatin of Drosophila melanogaster

Ángeles Cuadrado* and Nicolás Jouve

Author Affiliations

Department of Cell Biology and Genetics, University of Alcalá de Henares, 28871 Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain

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BMC Genomics 2011, 12:205  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-12-205

Published: 26 April 2011



In recent years, substantial progress has been made in understanding the organization of sequences in heterochromatin regions containing single-copy genes and transposable elements. However, the sequence and organization of tandem repeat DNA sequences, which are by far the majority fraction of D. melanogaster heterochromatin, are little understood.


This paper reports that the heterochromatin, as well as containing long tandem arrays of pentanucleotide satellites (AAGAG, AAGAC, AATAT, AATAC and AACAC), is also enriched in other simple sequence repeats (SSRs) such as A, AC, AG, AAG, ACT, GATA and GACA. Non-denaturing FISH (ND-FISH) showed these SSRs to localize to the chromocentre of polytene chromosomes, and was used to map them on mitotic chromosomes. Different distributions were detected ranging from single heterochromatic clusters to complex combinations on different chromosomes. ND-FISH performed on extended DNA fibres, along with Southern blotting, showed the complex organization of these heterochromatin sequences in long tracts, and revealed subclusters of SSRs (several kilobase in length) flanked by other DNA sequences. The chromosomal characterization of C, AAC, AGG, AAT, CCG, ACG, AGC, ATC and ACC provided further detailed information on the SSR content of D. melanogaster at the whole genome level.


These data clearly show the variation in the abundance of different SSR motifs and reveal their non-random distribution within and between chromosomes. The greater representation of certain SSRs in D. melanogaster heterochromatin suggests that its complexity may be greater than previously thought.