The genomes of higher eukaryotes contain various amounts of tandem repeated DNA sequences (satellite DNA) typically located in the constitutive heterochromatin, the most highly condensed region of interphase chromosomes. We have previously demonstrated that an AluI DNA family of repeats is the major component of constitutive heterochromatin in the brine shrimp Artemia franciscana. The analysis of cloned heterochromatic fragments revealed that this repetitive DNA shows a stable curvature conferring a solenoidal geometry to the double helix. In this paper we provide evidence, using the antitumour drug camptothecin, that, in vivo, topoisomerase I cleaves heterochromatin with a frequency comparable with that observed in the whole genome. The analysis of the break sites shows that the enzyme cleaves heterochromatic DNA at specific sites characterized by a degenerate consensus sequence. Moreover the enzyme-mediated breaks have, in vitro, a degenerate consensus sequence similar to, but not identical with, the in vivo one. Some of these sites are influenced by the DNA flanking the heterochromatic insert, suggesting that structural variations could modify the enzyme specificity.
|Number of pages||7|
|Publication status||Published - 1994|
ASJC Scopus subject areas