Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 72, Issue 1, pp 104–118

Characterization of Maltase Clusters in the Genus Drosophila


DOI: 10.1007/s00239-010-9406-3

Cite this article as:
Gabriško, M. & Janeček, Š. J Mol Evol (2011) 72: 104. doi:10.1007/s00239-010-9406-3


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 evolutionMaltaseAlpha-amylase familyGene clusterDrosophilaIntron/exon composition



Carbohydrate-Active enZymes


Conserved sequence region


Expressed sequence tags


Glycoside hydrolase


Kilo base


Likelihood-ratio test


Maximum likelihood


Maximum parsimony


Million years ago




Standard error

Supplementary material

239_2010_9406_MOESM1_ESM.xls (38 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLS 38 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Molecular BiologySlovak Academy of SciencesBratislavaSlovakia