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Eye-color mutants of Drosophila melanogaster have been analyzed for their pigment
content and related metabolites. Xanthommatin and dihydroxanthommatin (pigments causing
brown eye color) were measured after selective extraction in acidified butanol. Pteridines
(pigments causing red eye color) were quantitated after separation of 28 spots by
thin-layer chromatography, most of which are pteridines and a few of which are fluorescent
metabolites from the xanthommatin pathway. Pigment patterns have been studied in 45
loci. The pteridine pathway ramifies into two double branches giving rise to isoxanthopterin,
"drosopterins," and biopterin as final products. The regulatory relationship among
the branches and the metabolic blockage of the mutants are discussed. The Hn locus
is proposed to regulate pteridine synthesis in a step between pyruvoyltetrahydropterin
and dihydropterin. The results also indicate that the synthesis and accumulation of
xanthommatin in the eyes might be related to the synthesis of pteridines.