We have used Xenopus laevis cell-free extracts to study patterns of DNA replication in polytene nuclei isolated from salivary glands of Drosophila melanogaster 3rd instar larvae. Replication was visualized by supplementation with biotin-dUTP so that nascent DNA became labelled, thus allowing detection with fluorescein or Texas-Red-conjugated streptavidin. Biotin incorporation was dependent on incubation in extracts. Transverse bands were labelled in high-speed supernatants of eggs or oocytes in which replication does not initiate de novo. These patterns corresponded to the patterns of endogenous replication forks in polytene nuclei, monitored by bromodeoxyuridine incorporation in intact salivary glands. By contrast, when nuclei were incubated in low-speed supernatants of eggs, they underwent more extensive chromatin decondensation and initiated replication. The spatial patterns of replication are strikingly different from the endogenous patterns. Instead they closely resemble patterns of clustered replication forks seen in Xenopus sperm nuclei replicating in the extract. This indicates that the egg extract can impose its pattern of replication foci even when the template is presented in the highly organized form of a polytene nucleus.

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