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Minute Intergenic Rearrangement as a Cause of Apparent Gene Mutation

Nature volume 135, pages 253255 (16 February 1935) | Download Citation



WHEN it was discovered that chromosome breakage and reattachment usually entail effects resembling those of gene mutations located at or very near the point of breakage, it was suggested, as one alternative interpretation of this phenomenon, that the change in position of genes near the breakage point, with respect to other genes in their immediate vicinity, might in itself be the cause of their altered mode of reaction upon the organism (Muller, 1930). This was an extension of the ‘position effect’ principle which had previously been proposed for the special case of the bar genes, two of which had been found to have a greater effect when in the same chromosome than when in opposite chromosomes (Stur-tevant, 1925). Since 1930, numerous further illustrations have been found, by various investigators, showing the comparative regularity with which effects resembling those of gene mutations in nearby loci accompany breaks, but there has been little or nothing in their evidence that would serve to test the probability of the ‘position effect’ interpretation as opposed to the alternative conception that the disturbance involved in the process of breakage was of such a nature as to be likely simultaneously to upset and alter (once for all) the inner composition of genes in the vicinity. The senior author has now, however, obtained definitive evidence (see Muller and Prokofyeva, 1934) of the correctness of the ‘position effect’ interpretation, through the finding that different rearrangements involving the scute locus in Drosophila in the great majority of cases result in phenotypically different ‘allelomorphs', whereas nearly identical rearrangements (scute 4 and scute LS) have given sensibly the same ‘allelomorphs'.


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  1. Institute of Genetics, Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R., Moscow

    • H. J. MULLER
    •  & D. RAFFEL


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