The experiments described were directed toward understanding relationships between mouse satellite DNA, sister chromatid pairing, and centromere function. Electron microscopy of a large mouse L929 marker chromosome shows that each of its multiple constrictions is coincident with a site of sister chromatid contact and the presence of mouse satellite DNA. However, only one of these sites, the central one, possesses kinetochores. This observation suggests either that satellite DNA alone is not sufficient for kinetochore formation or that when one kinetochore forms, other potential sites are suppressed. In the second set of experiments, we show that highly extended chromosomes from Hoechst 33258-treated cells (Hilwig, I., and A. Gropp, 1973, Exp. Cell Res., 81:474-477) lack kinetochores. Kinetochores are not seen in Miller spreads of these chromosomes, and at least one kinetochore antigen is not associated with these chromosomes when they were subjected to immunofluorescent analysis using anti-kinetochore scleroderma serum. These data suggest that kinetochore formation at centromeric heterochromatin may require a higher order chromatin structure which is altered by Hoechst binding. Finally, when metaphase chromosomes are subjected to digestion by restriction enzymes that degrade the bulk of mouse satellite DNA, contact between sister chromatids appears to be disrupted. Electron microscopy of digested chromosomes shows that there is a significant loss of heterochromatin between the sister chromatids at paired sites. In addition, fluorescence microscopy using anti-kinetochore serum reveals a greater inter-kinetochore distance than in controls or chromosomes digested with enzymes that spare satellite. We conclude that the presence of mouse satellite DNA in these regions is necessary for maintenance of contact between the sister chromatids of mouse mitotic chromosomes.

This content is only available as a PDF.