Academic journal article Genetics

A New Resource for Characterizing X-Linked Genes in Drosophila Melanogaster: Systematic Coverage and Subdivision of the X Chromosome with Nested, Y-Linked Duplications

Academic journal article Genetics

A New Resource for Characterizing X-Linked Genes in Drosophila Melanogaster: Systematic Coverage and Subdivision of the X Chromosome with Nested, Y-Linked Duplications

Article excerpt


Interchromosomal duplications are especially important for the study of X-linked genes. Males inheriting a mutation in a vital X-linked gene cannot survive unless there is a wild-type copy of the gene duplicated elsewhere in the genome. Rescuing the lethality of an X-linked mutation with a duplication allows the mutation to be used experimentally in complementation tests and other genetic crosses and it maps the mutated gene to a defined chromosomal region. Duplications can also be used to screen for dosage-dependent enhancers and suppressors of mutant phenotypes as a way to identify genes involved in the same biological process. We describe an ongoing project in Drosophila melanogaster to generate comprehensive coverage and extensive breakpoint subdivision of the X chromosome with megabase-scale X segments borne on Y chromosomes. The in vivo method involves the creation of X inversions on attached-XY chromosomes by FLP-FRT site-specific recombination technology followed by irradiation to induce large internal X deletions. The resulting chromosomes consist of the X tip, a medial X segment placed near the tip by an inversion, and a full Y. A nested set of medial duplicated segments is derived from each inversion precursor. We have constructed a set of inversions on attached-XY chromosomes that enable us to isolate nested duplicated segments from all X regions. To date, our screens have provided a minimum of 78% X coverage with duplication breakpoints spaced a median of nine genes apart. These duplication chromosomes will be valuable resources for rescuing and mapping X-linked mutations and identifying dosage-dependent modifiers of mutant phenotypes.

MANY eukaryotes of biomedical and agricultural importance-including humans, other mammals, birds, and Drosophila-are heterogametic. Their sex chromosomes differ drastically in size and genetic composition. In species with X and Y chromosomes, males carry only one copy of each X-linked gene. This poses a serious challenge for experimental geneticists, because males inheriting a mutation in a vital X-linked gene die before they can be used in genetic crosses. In fact, the hemizygosity of X-linked genes in males has been a significant barrier to the functional analysis of many X-linked genes and is largely responsible for the poor genetic characterization of X chromosomes relative to autosomes in most organisms.

The lethality of X-linked mutations can be rescued by providing a wild-type copy of the mutated gene elsewhere in the genome. This can be accomplished with a transgenic construct if the molecular identity of the mutated gene is known. In many cases, however, themutated gene has not been identified and it is necessary to provide wildtype function with a multigene interchromosomal duplication, i.e., a segment of the X inserted in another chromosome. If the proximal and distal extents of the duplicated segment are known, phenotypic rescue maps the mutated gene to the defined X chromosome region.

Multigene deletions can also be used tomap X-linked mutations by complementation, but crosses between individuals carrying deletions and X-linked lethal mutations are impossible without rescuing the lethality of either the deletion or the lethal mutation in males. Projects at the Bloomington Drosophila Stock Center and elsewhere (Parks et al. 2004; Ryder et al. 2007) have generated large collections of deletions with molecularly defined breakpoints in Drosophila melanogaster, but the utility of the X deletions is limited without duplications of the corresponding chromosomal regions.

Duplications are potentially important for gene discovery. Identifying sets of genes involved in the same cellular process is a major focus of functional genomics research and this can be accomplished genetically by identifying dosage-sensitive modifiers of mutant phenotypes. Often, increasing or decreasing the copy number of a gene will enhance or suppress the phenotype associated with mutating another gene involved in the same process. …

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