Interphase chromosome organization in four different Drosophila melanogaster tissues, covering three to four levels of polyteny, has been analyzed. The results are based primarily on three-dimensional reconstructions from unfixed tissues using a computer-based data collection and modeling system. A characteristic organization of chromosomes in each cell type is observed, independent of polyteny, with some packing motifs common to several or all tissues and others tissue-specific. All chromosomes display a right-handed coiling chirality, despite large differences in size and degree of coiling. Conversely, in each cell type, the heterochromatic centromeric regions have a unique structure, tendency to associate, and intranuclear location. The organization of condensed nucleolar chromatin is also tissue-specific. The tightly coiled prothoracic gland chromosomes are arrayed in a similar fashion to the much larger salivary gland chromosomes described previously, having polarized orientations, nonintertwined spatial domains, and close packing of the arms of each autosome, whereas hindgut and especially the unusually straight midgut chromosomes display striking departures from these regularities. Surprisingly, gut chromosomes often appear to be broken in the centric heterochromatin. Severe deformations of midgut nuclei observed during gut contractions in living larvae may account for their unusual properties. Finally, morphometric measurements of chromosome and nuclear dimensions provide insights into chromosome growth and substructure and also suggest an unexpected parallel with diploid chromatin organization.

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