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Multiple ribosomal gene sites revealed by in situ hybridization of Xenopus rDNA to Tritums lampbrush chromosomes

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A variety of 3H-labelled ribosomal gene probes were hybridized in situ to the nascent transcripts of lampbrush chromosomes from the crested newt, Tritums cristatus carnifex. The probes were from Xenopus laevis and included rDNA isolated by CsCl gradient centrifugation, recombinant plasmids and purified restriction fragments of rDNA. All the probes gave essentially the same result. About 10–15 loop pairs were distinctly labelled in each preparation, almost all of them located on the heteromorphic arms (HTAs) of chromosome 1. Ribosomal gene probes were also hybridized in situ to the DNA of denatured mitotic chromosomes from some of the individuals used to provide lampbrush preparations. Minor, scattered sites of hybridization were found in the HTAs, but the main clusters of ribosomal genes were found on chromosomes 6 and/or 9, in agreement with previous determinations of nucleolus organizer position in this species. However, the nucleolus organizers were not sites of labelled loops in lampbrush transcript hybridizations. — We have incubated isolated lampbrush-stage nuclei in media containing α-amanitin and labelled RNA precursors. Although extrachromosomal nucleolar genes incorporated label, supposedly due to transcription by RNA polymerase I, no lampbrush loops were labelled. — It appears that in T. c. carnifex there are ribosomal gene sequences at the main nucleolus organizers and at a number of sites scattered along the HTAs. The ribosomal genes at the nucleolus organizers are not extended in the form of actively transcribing loops unlike the ribosomal sequences on the HTAs, which are heavily labelled in transcript hybridization. The ribosomal sequences on the HTAs appear not to be transcribed by the same RNA polymerase that transcribes the ribosomal genes of extrachromosomal nucleoli.

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Correspondence to Herbert C. Macgregor.

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Morgan, G.T., Macgregor, H.C. & Colman, A. Multiple ribosomal gene sites revealed by in situ hybridization of Xenopus rDNA to Tritums lampbrush chromosomes. Chromosoma 80, 309–330 (1980). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00292687

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  • CsCl
  • Ribosomal Gene
  • Nucleolus Organizer
  • Lampbrush Chromosome
  • Organizer Position