Using monoclonal antibodies, we followed the fate of three different nuclear envelope proteins during mitosis in Drosophila early embryos by indirect immunofluorescence microscopy. Two of these proteins, lamin and otefin, a newly characterized nuclear envelope polypeptide with an apparent Mr of 53,000, are apparently present in an envelope-like structure that is present throughout mitosis. Immunoelectron microscopy of interphase nuclei indicates that otefin, like lamin, is not a component of nuclear pore complexes. In contrast with lamin and otefin, gp188, a putative pore complex component, was completely redistributed through the surrounding cytoplasm during prophase in comparable early embryo specimens and was present in an envelope only in interphase. Together with previous morphological studies by other workers, these data suggest that the entire mitotic apparatus including condensed chromosomes and spindle is enclosed by an envelope throughout mitosis during early embryogenesis in Drosophila. This 'spindle envelope', as it has been named by others, contains both lamin and otefin but probably not pore complex proteins.
A cDNA clone encoding a portion of Drosophila nuclear lamins Dm1 and Dm2 has been identified by screening a lambda-gt11 cDNA expression library using Drosophila lamin-specific monoclonal antibodies. Two different developmentally regulated mRNA species were identified by Northern blot analysis using the initial cDNA as a probe, and full-length cDNA clones, apparently corresponding to each message, have been isolated. In vitro transcription of both full-length cDNA clones in a pT7 transcription vector followed by in vitro translation in wheat germ lysate suggests that both clones encode lamin Dm0, the polypeptide precursor of lamins Dm1 and Dm2. Nucleotide sequence analyses confirm the impression that both cDNA clones code for the identical polypeptide, which is highly homologous with human lamins A and C as well as with mammalian intermediate filament proteins. The two clones differ in their 3'-untranslated regions. In situ hybridization of lamin cDNA clones to Drosophila polytene chromosomes shows only a single locus of hybridization at or near position 25F on the left arm of chromosome 2. Southern blot analyses of genomic DNA are consistent with the notion that a single or only a few highly similar genes encoding Drosophila nuclear lamin Dm0 exist in the genome.
Two major immunocross-reactive polypeptides of the Drosophila nuclear envelope, distinguishable in interphase cells on the basis of one-dimensional SDS-PAGE mobility, have been localized to the nuclear lamina by immunoelectron microscopy. These have been designated lamins Dm1 and Dm2. Both lamins are apparently derived posttranslationally from a single, primary translation product, lamin Dm0. A pathway has been established whereby lamin Dm0 is processed almost immediately upon synthesis in the cytoplasm to lamin Dm1. Processing occurs posttranslationally, is apparently proteolytic, and has been reconstituted from cell-free extracts in vitro. Processing in vitro is ATP dependent. Once assembled into the nuclear envelope, a portion of lamin Dm1 is converted into lamin Dm2 by differential phosphorylation. Throughout most stages of development and in Schneider 2 tissue culture cells, both lamin isoforms are present in approximately equal abundance. However, during heat shock, lamin Dm2 is converted nearly quantitatively into lamin Dm1. Implications for understanding the regulation of nuclear lamina plasticity through normal growth and in response to heat shock are discussed.
Using a computer-based system for model building and analysis, three-dimensional models of 24 Drosophila melanogaster salivary gland nuclei have been constructed from optically or physically sectioned glands, allowing several generalizations about chromosome folding and packaging in these nuclei. First and most surprising, the prominent coiling of the chromosomes is strongly chiral, with right-handed gyres predominating. Second, high frequency appositions between certain loci and the nuclear envelope appear almost exclusively at positions of intercalary heterochromatin; in addition, the chromocenter is always apposed to the envelope. Third, chromosomes are invariably separated into mutually exclusive spatial domains while usually extending across the nucleus in a polarized (Rabl) orientation. Fourth, the arms of each autosome are almost always juxtaposed, but no other relative arm positions are strongly favored. Finally, despite these nonrandom structural features, each chromosome is found to fold into a wide variety of different configurations. In addition, a set of nuclei has been analyzed in which the normally aggregrated centromeric regions of the chromosomes are located far apart from one another. These nuclei have the same architectural motifs seen in normal nuclei. This implies that such characteristics as separate chromosome domains and specific chromosome-nuclear envelope contacts are largely independent of the relative placement of the different chromosomes within the nucleus.
A computer-based system for recording and analysing light microscope images, combined with classical cytogenetic analysis, has revealed the spatial organization of the giant chromosomes of Drosophila salivary gland cells. Each polytene chromosome arm folds up in a characteristic way, contacts the nuclear surface at specific sites and is topologically isolated from all other arms.
The combination of optical fluorescence microscopy with digital image processing and analysis has been used to examine the three-dimensional organization of chromosomes within intact polytene nuclei. Although the arrangement indicates a high degree of flexibility, there are many conserved features between nuclei at the same developmental state. For example, chromosome arms are loosely coiled with centromeres clustered at the opposite end of the nucleus from the telomeres. Individual chromosome arms are not interwoven but occupy different spatial domains. Chromosomal sites that contact the envelope correlate with intercalary heterochromatin. Connections are observed between actively transcribing regions.
We have introduced [alpha-32P]dGTP into permeabilized cells and measured the degree of methylation at CpG sites by nearest-neighbor analysis. This method reveals a lag of approximately 1 min between DNA synthesis and the modification event. When methylation is inhibited by the addition of S-adenosyl-L-homocysteine in the presence of continued DNA synthesis, the resulting hemimethylated sites are methylated immediately after the release of inhibition. The results suggest that the methylase activity in the cell allows immediate methylation but conditions at the replication fork bring about a short delay in the onset of the modification reaction.
Two DNA methylase activities of Escherichia coli C, the mec (designates DNA-cytosine-methylase gene, which is also designated dcm) and dam gene products, were physically separated by DEAE-cellulose column chromatography. The sequence and substrate specificity of the two enzymes were studied in vitro. The experiments revealed that both enzymes show their expected sequence specificity under in vitro conditions, methylating symmetrically on both DNA strands. The mec enzyme methylates exclusively the internal cytosine residue of CCATGG sequences, and the dam enzyme methylates adenine residues at GATC sites. Substrate specificity experiments revealed that both enzymes methylate in vitro unmethylated duplex DNA as efficiently as hemimethylated DNA. The results of these experiments suggest that the methylation at a specific site takes place by two independent events. A methyl group in a site on one strand of the DNA does not facilitate the methylation of the same site on the opposite strand. With the dam methylase it was found that the enzyme is incapable of methylating GATC sites located at the ends of DNA molecules.
DNA-mediated gene transfer was used to investigate the mode of inheritance of 5-methylcytosine in mouse L cells. Unmethylated phi X174 replicative form DNA remains unmethylated after its introduction and integration into these cells. On the other hand, phi X174 replicative form DNA that was methylated in vitro at its C-C-G-G residues retains these methylations as shown by restriction enzyme analysis with Hpa II and Msp I to detect methylation at this specific site. Although these unselected methylated vectors are prone to lose 30-40% of their methyl moieties upon transfection, this demethylation appears to be random. Once established, the resulting methylation pattern is stable for at least 100 cell generations. In order to examine the specificity of methylation inheritance, fully hemimethylated duplex phi X174 DNA was synthesized in vitro from primed single-strand phi X174 DNA by using 5-methyl deoxycytidine 5'-triphosphate. This molecule was inserted into mouse L cells by cotransformation and subsequently was analyzed by a series of restriction enzymes. Only methylations located at C-G residues were conserved after many generations of cell growth. The results suggest that the inheritance of the cellular DNA methylation pattern is based on a C-G-specific methylase that operates on newly replicated hemimethylated DNA.
The distribution of the methylatable sites GATC and CCATGG was studied by analyzing the molecular average size of restriction fragments of E. coli DNA. Both sites were found to be randomly distributed, reflecting a random pattern of methylation. The methylation pattern of specific sequences such as the origin of replication and rRNA genes has been studied in wild type E. coli and a methylation deficient (dam- dcm-) mutant. These sequences were found to be methylated in wild type cells and unmethylated in the mutant indicating that there is no effect of the state of methylation of these sequences on their expression. Analysis of the state of methylation of GATC sites in newly replicating DNA using the restriction enzyme Dpn I (cleaves only when both strands are methylated) revealed no detectable hemimethylated DNA suggesting that methylation occurs at the replication fork. Taking together the results presented here and previously published data (5), we arrive at the conclusion that the most likely function of E. coli DNA methylations is probably in preventing nuclease activity.
Hemimethylated duplex DNA of the bacteriophage phi X 174 was synthesized using primed repair synthesis is in vitro with E. coli DNA polymerase I followed by ligation to produce the covalently closed circular duplex (RFI). Single-stranded phi X DNA was used as a template, a synthetic oligonucleotide as primer and 5-methyldeoxycytidine-5'-triphosphate (5mdCTP) was used in place of dCTP. The hemimethylated product was used as substrate for cleavage by various restriction enzymes. Out of the 17 enzymes tested, only 5 (BstN I, Taq I, Hinc II, Hinf I and Hpa I) cleaved the hemimethylated DNA. Two enzymes (Msp I and Hae III) were able to produce nicks on the unmethylated strand of the cleavage site. Msp I, which is known to cleave at CCGG when the internal cytosine residue is methylated, does not cleave when both cytosines are methylated. Another enzyme, Apy I, cleaves at the sequence CCTAGG when the internal cytosine is methylated, but is inactive on hemimethylated DNA in which both cytosines are methylated. Hemimethylated molecules should be useful for studying DNA methylation both in vivo and in vitro.
Two pairs of restriction enzyme isoschizomers were used to study in vivo methylation of E. coli and extrachromosomal DNA. By use of the restriction enzymes MboI (which cleaves only the unmethylated GATC sequence) and its isoschizomer Sau3A (indifferent to methylated adenine at this sequence), we found that all the GATC sites in E. coli and in extrachromosomal DNAs are symmetrically methylated on both strands. The calculated number of GATC sites in E. coli DNA can account for all its m6Ade residues. Foreign DNA, like mouse mtDNA, which is not methylated at GATC sites became fully methylated at these sequences when introduced by transfection into E. coli cells. This experiment provides the first evidence for the operation of a de novo methylation mechanism for E. coli methylases not involved in restriction modification. When the two restriction enzyme isoschizomers, EcoRII and ApyI, were used to analyze the methylation pattern of CCTAGG sequences in E. coli C and phi X174 DNA, it was found that all these sites are methylated. The number of CCTAGG sites in E. coli C DNA does not account for all m5Cyt residues.