A quantitative three-dimensional model of the Drosophila optic lobes.
A big step in the neurobiology of Drosophila would be to establish a standard for brain anatomy to which to relate morphological, developmental and genetic data. We propose that only an average brain and its variance would be a biologically meaningful reference and have developed an averaging procedure. Here, we present a brief outline of this method and apply it to the optic lobes of Drosophila melanogaster wild-type Canton S. Whole adult brains are stained with a fluorescent neuropil marker and scanned with the confocal microscope. The resulting three-dimensional data sets are automatically aligned into a common coordinate system and intensity averages calculated. We use effect-size maps for the fast detection of differences between averages. For morphometric analysis, neuropil structures are labelled and superimposed to give a three-dimensional probabilistic map. In the present study, the method was applied to 66 optic lobes. We found their size, shape and position to be highly conserved between animals. Similarity was even higher between left and right optic lobes of the same animal. Sex differences were more pronounced. Female optic lobes were 6% larger than those of males. This value corresponds well with the higher number of ommatidia in females. As females have their additional ommatidia dorsally and ventrally, the additional neuropil in the medulla, lobula and lobula plate, accordingly, was found preferentially at these locations. For males, additional neuropil was found only at the posterior margin of the lobula. This finding supports the notion of male-specific neural processing in the lobula as described for muscid and calliphorid flies. (+info)
Alzheimer's disease: clues from flies and worms.
Presenilin mutations give rise to familial Alzheimer's disease and result in elevated production of amyloid beta peptide. Recent evidence that presenilins act in developmental signalling pathways may be the key to understanding how senile plaques, neurofibrillary tangles and apoptosis are all biochemically linked. (+info)
Insect evolution: Redesigning the fruitfly.
Homeotic mutations in Drosophila can result in dramatic phenotypes that suggest the possibility for rapid morphological evolution, but dissection of the genetic pathway downstream of Ultrabithorax is beginning to reveal how wing morphology may have evolved by more gradual transformations. (+info)
Deletion analysis of the Drosophila Inscuteable protein reveals domains for cortical localization and asymmetric localization.
The Drosophila Inscuteable protein acts as a key regulator of asymmetric cell division during the development of the nervous system  . In neuroblasts, Inscuteable localizes into an apical cortical crescent during late interphase and most of mitosis. During mitosis, Inscuteable is required for the correct apical-basal orientation of the mitotic spindle and for the asymmetric segregation of the proteins Numb   , Prospero    and Miranda   into the basal daughter cell. When Inscuteable is ectopically expressed in epidermal cells, which normally orient their mitotic spindle parallel to the embryo surface, these cells reorient their mitotic spindle and divide perpendicularly to the surface . Like the Inscuteable protein, the inscuteable RNA is asymmetrically localized . We show here that inscuteable RNA localization is not required for Inscuteable protein localization. We found that a central 364 amino acid domain - the Inscuteable asymmetry domain - was necessary and sufficient for Inscuteable localization and function. Within this domain, a separate 100 amino acid region was required for asymmetric localization along the cortex, whereas a 158 amino acid region directed localization to the cell cortex. The same 158 amino acid fragment could localize asymmetrically when coexpressed with the full-length protein, however, and could bind to Inscuteable in vitro, suggesting that this domain may be involved in the self-association of Inscuteable in vivo. (+info)
Why are there so few resistance-associated mutations in insecticide target genes?
The genes encoding the three major targets of conventional insecticides are: Rdl, which encodes a gamma-aminobutyric acid receptor subunit (RDL); para, which encodes a voltage-gated sodium channel (PARA); and Ace, which encodes insect acetylcholinesterase (AChE). Interestingly, despite the complexity of the encoded receptors or enzymes, very few amino acid residues are replaced in different resistant insects: one within RDL, two within PARA and three or more within AChE. Here we examine the possible reasons underlying this extreme conservation by looking at the aspects of receptor and/or enzyme function that may constrain replacements to such a limited number of residues. (+info)
Cytochrome P450 monooxygenases and insecticide resistance in insects.
Cytochrome P450 monooxygenases are involved in many cases of resistance of insects to insecticides. Resistance has long been associated with an increase in monooxygenase activities and with an increase in cytochrome P450 content. However, this increase does not always account for all of the resistance. In Drosophila melanogaster, we have shown that the overproduction of cytochrome P450 can be lost by the fly without a corresponding complete loss of resistance. These results prompted the sequencing of a cytochrome P450 candidate for resistance in resistant and susceptible flies. Several mutations leading to amino-acid substitutions have been detected in the P450 gene CYP6A2 of a resistant strain. The location of these mutations in a model of the 3D structure of the CYP6A2 protein suggested that some of them may be important for enzyme activity of this molecule. This has been verified by heterologous expression of wild-type and mutated cDNA in Escherichia coli. When other resistance mechanisms are considered, relatively few genetic mutations are involved in insecticide resistance, and this has led to an optimistic view of the management of resistance. Our observations compel us to survey in more detail the genetic diversity of cytochrome P450 genes and alleles involved in resistance. (+info)
Control of growth and differentiation by Drosophila RasGAP, a homolog of p120 Ras-GTPase-activating protein.
Mammalian Ras GTPase-activating protein (GAP), p120 Ras-GAP, has been implicated as both a downregulator and effector of Ras proteins, but its precise role in Ras-mediated signal transduction pathways is unclear. To begin a genetic analysis of the role of p120 Ras-GAP we identified a homolog from the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster through its ability to complement the sterility of a Schizosaccharomyces pombe (fission yeast) gap1 mutant strain. Like its mammalian homolog, Drosophila RasGAP stimulated the intrinsic GTPase activity of normal mammalian H-Ras but not that of the oncogenic Val12 mutant. RasGAP was tyrosine phosphorylated in embryos and its Src homology 2 (SH2) domains could bind in vitro to a small number of tyrosine-phosphorylated proteins expressed at various developmental stages. Ectopic expression of RasGAP in the wing imaginal disc reduced the size of the adult wing by up to 45% and suppressed ectopic wing vein formation caused by expression of activated forms of Breathless and Heartless, two Drosophila receptor tyrosine kinases of the fibroblast growth factor receptor family. The in vivo effects of RasGAP overexpression required intact SH2 domains, indicating that intracellular localization of RasGAP through SH2-phosphotyrosine interactions is important for its activity. These results show that RasGAP can function as an inhibitor of signaling pathways mediated by Ras and receptor tyrosine kinases in vivo. Genetic interactions, however, suggested a Ras-independent role for RasGAP in the regulation of growth. The system described here should enable genetic screens to be performed to identify regulators and effectors of p120 Ras-GAP. (+info)
A human sequence homologue of Staufen is an RNA-binding protein that is associated with polysomes and localizes to the rough endoplasmic reticulum.
In the course of a two-hybrid screen with the NS1 protein of influenza virus, a human clone capable of coding for a protein with high homology to the Staufen protein from Drosophila melanogaster (dmStaufen) was identified. With these sequences used as a probe, cDNAs were isolated from a lambda cDNA library. The encoded protein (hStaufen-like) contained four double-stranded RNA (dsRNA)-binding domains with 55% similarity and 38% identity to those of dmStaufen, including identity at all residues involved in RNA binding. A recombinant protein containing all dsRNA-binding domains was expressed in Escherichia coli as a His-tagged polypeptide. It showed dsRNA binding activity in vitro, with an apparent Kd of 10(-9) M. Using a specific antibody, we detected in human cells a major form of the hStaufen-like protein with an apparent molecular mass of 60 to 65 kDa. The intracellular localization of hStaufen-like protein was investigated by immunofluorescence using a series of markers for the cell compartments. Colocalization was observed with the rough endoplasmic reticulum but not with endosomes, cytoskeleton, or Golgi apparatus. Furthermore, sedimentation analyses indicated that hStaufen-like protein associates with polysomes. These results are discussed in relation to the possible functions of the protein. (+info)