Assaying potential carcinogens with Drosophila.
Drosophila offers many advantages for the detection of mutagenic activity of carcinogenic agents. It provides the quickest assay system for detecting mutations in animals today. Its generation time is short, and Drosophila is cheap and easy to breed in large numbers. The simple genetic testing methods give unequivocal answers about the whole spectrum of relevant genetic damage. A comparison of the detection capacity of assays sampling different kinds of genetic damage revealed that various substances are highly effective in inducing mutations but do not produce chromosome breakage effects at all, or only at much higher concentrations than those required for mutation induction. Of the different assay systems available, the classical sex-linked recessive lethal test deserves priority, in view of its superior capacity to detect mutagens. Of practical importance is also its high sensitivity, because a large number of loci in one fifth of the genome is tested for newly induced forward mutations, including small deletions. The recent findings that Drosophila is capable of carrying out the same metabolic activation reactions as the mammalian liver makes the organism eminently suitable for verifying results obtained in prescreening with fast microbial assay systems. An additional advantage in this respect is the capacity of Drosophila for detecting short-lived activation products, because intracellular metabolic activation appears to occur within the spermatids and spermatocytes. (+info)
Enzymes and reproduction in natural populations of Drosophila euronotus.
Populations of Drosophila euronotus, one from southern Louisiana )3 samples), and one from Missouri (2 samples), were classified for allele frequencies at alkaline phosphatase (APH) and acid phosphatase (ACPH) loci. The two populations differed consistently in allele frequencies at both loci. The APH locus is on the inversion-free X chromosome; the chromosomal locus of the autosomal ACPH is unknown, and could involve inversion polymorphism. Wild females from Missouri and Louisiana populations heterozygous at the APH locus carried more sperm at capture than did the corresponding homozygotes. This heterotic association was significant for the combined samples, and whether it was the result of heterosis at the enzyme locus studied, or due to geographically widespread close linkage with other heterotic loci, it should help to maintain heterozygosity at the APH locus. In a Louisiana collection which included large numbers of sperm-free females, simultaneous homozygosity at both enzyme loci was significantly associated with lack of sperm. It is suggested that the latter association is the result of young heterozygous females achieving sexual maturity earlier than do the double homozygotes. The average effective sperm load for 225 wild females was only 29.4, suggesting the necessity for frequent repeat-mating in nature to maintain female fertility. A comparison of the sex-linked APH genotypes of wild females with those of their daughters indicated that among 295 wild-inseminated females from five populations, 35% had mated more than once, and of this 35%, six females had mated at least three times. Because of ascertainment difficulties, it is clear that the true frequency of multiple-mating in nature must have been much higher than the observed 35%. Laboratory studies indicate that multiple-mating in this species does not involve sperm displacement, possibly due to the small number of sperms transmitted per mating, and the fact that the sperm receptacles are only partially filled by a given mating. (+info)
Lack of genic similarity between two sibling species of drosophila as revealed by varied techniques.
Acrylamide gel electrophoresis was performed on the enzyme xanthine dehydrogenase in sixty isochromosomal lines of Drosophila persimilis from three geographic populations. Sequential electrophoretic analysis using varied gel concentrations and buffers revealed twenty-three alleles in this species where only five had been described previously. These new electrophoretic techniques also detected a profound increase in divergence of gene frequencies at this locus between D. persimilis and its sibling species D. pseudoobscura. The implications of these results for questions of speciation and the maintenance of genetic variability are discussed. (+info)
Genetic heterogeneity within electrophoretic "alleles" of xanthine dehydrogenase in Drosophila pseudoobscura.
An experimental plan for an exhaustive determination of genic variation at structural gene loci is presented. In the initial steps of this program, 146 isochromosomal lines from 12 geographic populations of D. pseudoobscura were examined for allelic variation of xanthine dehydrogenase by the serial use of 4 different electrophoretic conditions and a head stability test. The 5 criteria revealed a total of 37 allelic classes out of the 146 genomes examined where only 6 had been previously revealed by the usual method of gel electrophoresis. This immense increase in genic variation also showed previously unsuspected population differences between the main part of the species distribution and the isolated population of Bogota population. The average heterozygosity at the Xdh locus is at least 72% in natural populations. This result, together with the very large number of alleles segregating and the pattern of allelic frequencies, has implications for theories of genetic polymorphism which are discussed. (+info)
Testing for selective neutrality of electrophoretically detectable protein polymorphisms.
The statistical assessment of gene-frequency data on protein polymorphisms in natural populations remains a contentious issue. Here we formulate a test of whether polymorphisms detected by electrophoresis are in accordance with the stepwise, or charge-state, model of mutation in finite populations in the absence of selection. First, estimates of the model parameters are derived by minimizing chi-square deviations of the observed frequencies of genotypes with alleles (0,1,2...) units apart from their theoretical expected values. Then the remaining deviation is tested under the null hypothesis of neutrality. The procedure was found to be conservative for false rejections in simulation data. We applied the test to Ayala and Tracey 's data on 27 allozymic loci in six populations of Drosophila willistoni . About one-quarter of polymorphic loci showed significant departure from the neutral theory predictions in virtually all populations. A further quarter showed significant departure in some populations. The remaining data showed an acceptable fit to the charge state model. A predominating mode of selection was selection against alleles associated with extreme electrophoretic mobilities. The advantageous properties and the difficulties of the procedure are discussed. (+info)
Apontic binds the translational repressor Bruno and is implicated in regulation of oskar mRNA translation.
The product of the oskar gene directs posterior patterning in the Drosophila oocyte, where it must be deployed specifically at the posterior pole. Proper expression relies on the coordinated localization and translational control of the oskar mRNA. Translational repression prior to localization of the transcript is mediated, in part, by the Bruno protein, which binds to discrete sites in the 3' untranslated region of the oskar mRNA. To begin to understand how Bruno acts in translational repression, we performed a yeast two-hybrid screen to identify Bruno-interacting proteins. One interactor, described here, is the product of the apontic gene. Coimmunoprecipitation experiments lend biochemical support to the idea that Bruno and Apontic proteins physically interact in Drosophila. Genetic experiments using mutants defective in apontic and bruno reveal a functional interaction between these genes. Given this interaction, Apontic is likely to act together with Bruno in translational repression of oskar mRNA. Interestingly, Apontic, like Bruno, is an RNA-binding protein and specifically binds certain regions of the oskar mRNA 3' untranslated region. (+info)
The Drosophila kismet gene is related to chromatin-remodeling factors and is required for both segmentation and segment identity.
The Drosophila kismet gene was identified in a screen for dominant suppressors of Polycomb, a repressor of homeotic genes. Here we show that kismet mutations suppress the Polycomb mutant phenotype by blocking the ectopic transcription of homeotic genes. Loss of zygotic kismet function causes homeotic transformations similar to those associated with loss-of-function mutations in the homeotic genes Sex combs reduced and Abdominal-B. kismet is also required for proper larval body segmentation. Loss of maternal kismet function causes segmentation defects similar to those caused by mutations in the pair-rule gene even-skipped. The kismet gene encodes several large nuclear proteins that are ubiquitously expressed along the anterior-posterior axis. The Kismet proteins contain a domain conserved in the trithorax group protein Brahma and related chromatin-remodeling factors, providing further evidence that alterations in chromatin structure are required to maintain the spatially restricted patterns of homeotic gene transcription. (+info)
Transcriptional repression by the Drosophila giant protein: cis element positioning provides an alternative means of interpreting an effector gradient.
Early developmental patterning of the Drosophila embryo is driven by the activities of a diverse set of maternally and zygotically derived transcription factors, including repressors encoded by gap genes such as Kruppel, knirps, giant and the mesoderm-specific snail. The mechanism of repression by gap transcription factors is not well understood at a molecular level. Initial characterization of these transcription factors suggests that they act as short-range repressors, interfering with the activity of enhancer or promoter elements 50 to 100 bp away. To better understand the molecular mechanism of short-range repression, we have investigated the properties of the Giant gap protein. We tested the ability of endogenous Giant to repress when bound close to the transcriptional initiation site and found that Giant effectively represses a heterologous promoter when binding sites are located at -55 bp with respect to the start of transcription. Consistent with its role as a short-range repressor, as the binding sites are moved to more distal locations, repression is diminished. Rather than exhibiting a sharp 'step-function' drop-off in activity, however, repression is progressively restricted to areas of highest Giant concentration. Less than a two-fold difference in Giant protein concentration is sufficient to determine a change in transcriptional status of a target gene. This effect demonstrates that Giant protein gradients can be differentially interpreted by target promoters, depending on the exact location of the Giant binding sites within the gene. Thus, in addition to binding site affinity and number, cis element positioning within a promoter can affect the response of a gene to a repressor gradient. We also demonstrate that a chimeric Gal4-Giant protein lacking the basic/zipper domain can specifically repress reporter genes, suggesting that the Giant effector domain is an autonomous repression domain. (+info)