Cloning of the neurodegeneration gene drop-dead and characterization of additional phenotypes of its mutation
Volume 2, Issue 4
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Pages 180 - 188
Authors: Edward M. Blumenthal View affiliations
Mutations in the Drosophila gene drop-dead (drd) result in early adult lethality and neurodegeneration, but the molecular identity of the drd gene and its mechanism of action are not known. This paper describes the characterization of a new X-linked recessive adult-lethal mutation, originally called lot's wife (lwf1) but subsequently identified as an allele of drd (drdlwf); drdlwf mutants die within two weeks of eclosion. Through mapping and complementation, the drd gene has been identified as CG33968, which encodes a putative integral membrane protein of unknown function. The drdlwf allele is associated with a nonsense mutation that eliminates nearly 80% of the CG33968 gene product; mutations in the same gene were also found in two previously described drd alleles. Characterization of drdlwf flies revealed additional phenotypes of drd, most notably, defects in food processing by the digestive system and in oogenesis. Mutant flies store significantly more food in their crops and defecate less than wild-type flies, suggesting that normal transfer of ingested food from the crop into the midgut is dependent upon the DRD gene product. The defect in oogenesis results in the sterility of homozygous mutant females and is associated with a reduction in the number of vitellogenic egg chambers. The disruption in vitellogenesis is far more severe than that seen in starved flies and so is unlikely to be a secondary consequence of the digestive phenotype. This study demonstrates that mutation of the drd gene CG33968 results in a complex phenotype affecting multiple physiological systems within the fly.
Received: February 22, 2008; Accepted: July 3, 2008