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Mosaic analysis with a repressible cell marker for studies of gene function in neuronal morphogenesis.

Neuron

Animals, genetics, Transgenes, Repressor Proteins, ultrastructure, physiology, Neurons, Mutation, Mosaicism, Morphogenesis, Mitosis, Genetic Markers, Drosophila, Chromosomes, embryology, Central Nervous System, Axons

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      Abstract

      We describe a genetic mosaic system in Drosophila, in which a dominant repressor of a cell marker is placed in trans to a mutant gene of interest. Mitotic recombination events between homologous chromosomes generate homozygous mutant cells, which are exclusively labeled due to loss of the repressor. Using this system, we are able to visualize axonal projections and dendritic elaboration in large neuroblast clones and single neuron clones with a membrane-targeted GFP marker. This new method allows for the study of gene functions in neuroblast proliferation, axon guidance, and dendritic elaboration in the complex central nervous system. As an example, we show that the short stop gene is required in mushroom body neurons for the extension and guidance of their axons.

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      Most cited references 28

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      Transposition of cloned P elements into Drosophila germ line chromosomes.

      Recombinant DNA carrying the 3-kilobase transposable element was injected into Drosophila embryos of a strain that lacked such elements. Under optimum conditions, half of the surviving embryos showed evidence of P element-induced mutations in a fraction of their progeny. Direct analysis of the DNA of strains derived from such flies showed them to contain from one to five intact 3-kilobase P elements located at a wide variety of chromosomal sites. DNA sequences located outside the P element on the injected DNA were not transferred. Thus P elements can efficiently and selectively transpose from extrachromosomal DNA to the DNA of germ line chromosomes in Drosophila embryos. These observations provide the basis for efficient DNA-mediated gene transfer in Drosophila.
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        Distinct morphogenetic functions of similar small GTPases: Drosophila Drac1 is involved in axonal outgrowth and myoblast fusion.

        The small GTPases of the Rac/Rho/Cdc42 subfamily are implicated in actin cytoskeleton-membrane interaction in mammalian cells and budding yeast. The in vivo functions of these GTPases in multicellular organisms are not known. We have cloned Drosophila homologs of rac and CDC42, Drac1, and Dcdc42. They share 70% amino acid sequence identity with each other, and both are highly expressed in the nervous system and mesoderm during neuronal and muscle differentiation, respectively. We expressed putative constitutively active and dominant-negative Drac1 proteins in these tissues. When expressed in neurons, Drac1 mutant proteins cause axon outgrowth defects in peripheral neurons without affecting dendrites. When expressed in muscle precursors, they cause complete failure of, or abnormality in, myoblast fusion. Expressions of analogous mutant Dcdc42 proteins cause qualitatively distinct morphological defects, suggesting that similar GTPases in the same subfamily have unique roles in morphogenesis.
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          The FLP recombinase of yeast catalyzes site-specific recombination in the Drosophila genome.

          We have transferred the site-specific recombination system of the yeast 2 micron plasmid, the FLP recombinase and its recombination targets (FRTs), into the genome of Drosophila. Flies were transformed with an FLP gene under the control of hsp70 regulatory sequences and with a white gene flanked by FRTs. The heat-induced recombinase catalyzes recombination between FRTs, causing loss of white (seen somatically as white patches in the eye) and, less frequently, gain of white (seen as dark-red patches). Loss and gain frequencies vary with the severity of the heat shock, and patterns of mosaicism vary with the developmental stage at which the heat shock is applied. The recombinase is also active in the germline, producing white-eyed and dark-red-eyed progeny.
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            Journal
            10197526

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