Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


W.M. Keck Science Department

Second Department


Reader 1

Jennifer Armstrong

Reader 2

Irene Tang

Rights Information

© 2014 Phuongngan Thi Bui


Position Effect Variegation (PEV) is the mosaic expression of a gene that has been moved out of its optimal environment and into a different area on the chromosome. Changing a gene’s environment may have profound effects on its eligibility for proper expression, which is a complicated process regulated by many factors. The PEV phenomenon is used as an assay to study gene expression as regulated by chromatin structure. In this study, the Drosophila melanogaster white gene was used as a reporter to study the various effects of CHD1, a chromatin regulating factor, on PEV gene expression. Inspired by preliminary data generated by the Armstrong Lab where overexpression of CHD1 resulted in suppression of gene silencing of the brown gene and loss of CHD1 resulted in enhancement of gene silencing, this study uses PEV as an assay to examine whether loss of function chd1 mutant alleles function dominantly to enhance silencing of the white gene when it is placed in a repressive chromatin environment. Surprisingly, I found that a chd1 loss of function mutant allele dominantly suppressed gene silencing (meaning I saw an increase in gene expression), suggesting that the CHD1 protein is normally required for effective silencing. The results demonstrated that CHD1 is a dominant modifier of PEV gene expression. CHD1 significantly modifies gene expression by suppressing silencing of the white gene inserted into pericentric heterochromatin on the second and fourth chromosomes and an insertion into the medial region of the fourth chromosome, while it shows no significant modification of the white gene inserted into telomeric heterochromatin of the fourth chromosome. Together, these intriguing results regarding varying gene expression at different chromosomal sites show that PEV is a dynamic phenomenon meriting further research and studying the effects of CHD1 as a modifier of PEV may be influential to understanding the mechanism and characteristics of gene expression.