Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 72, Issue 1, pp 104-118

First online:

Characterization of Maltase Clusters in the Genus Drosophila

  • Marek GabriškoAffiliated withInstitute of Molecular Biology, Slovak Academy of Sciences Email author 
  • , Štefan JanečekAffiliated withInstitute of Molecular Biology, Slovak Academy of Sciences

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To reveal evolutionary history of maltase gene family in the genus Drosophila, we undertook a bioinformatics study of maltase genes from available genomes of 12 Drosophila species. Molecular evolution of a closely related glycoside hydrolase, the α-amylase, in Drosophila has been extensively studied for a long time. The α-amylases were even used as a model of evolution of multigene families. On the other hand, maltase, i.e., the α-glucosidase, got only scarce attention. In this study, we, therefore, investigated spatial organization of the maltase genes in Drosophila genomes, compared the amino acid sequences of the encoded enzymes and analyzed the intron/exon composition of orthologous genes. We found that the Drosophila maltases are more numerous than previously thought (ten instead of three genes) and are localized in two clusters on two chromosomes (2L and 2R). To elucidate the approximate time line of evolution of the clusters, we estimated the order and dated duplication of all the 10 genes. Both clusters are the result of ancient series of subsequent duplication events, which took place from 352 to 61 million years ago, i.e., well before speciation to extant Drosophila species. Also observed was a remarkable intron/exon composition diversity of particular maltase genes of these clusters, probably a result of independent intron loss after duplication of intron-rich gene ancestor, which emerged well before speciation in a common ancestor of all extant Drosophila species.


Molecular evolution Maltase Alpha-amylase family Gene cluster Drosophila Intron/exon composition