Structure, Expression, and Evolution of the D. melanogaster DPKQDFMRF-Amide Neuropeptide Gene
In recent years, there has been a tremendous increase in the amount of information detailing the structure and expression of biologically active neuropeptides. While we have exact knowledge of many neuropeptides, the promise of a better understanding of what they do, both as individuals and as a class, and of how their diversity improves neuronal function, remains largely unfulfilled. Because of its diminutive size, Drosophila melanogaster has not been a favored subject for physiological studies. The study of neuropeptide expression and function in D. melanogaster is highly attractive, however, because of the advanced genetics and molecular techniques that are available for studies of gene regulation and function in vivo. The functions of neuropeptides are often difficult to analyze because of their structural diversity and because of a lack of specific antagonists. However, in D. melanogaster, the ability to create gene mutations offers the possibility of examining animals that chronically lack specific neuropeptide gene expression. Furthermore, the ability to transform the D. melanogaster germ line via P elements (Rubin and Spradling, 1982) means that such expression could be re-introduced to the nervous system, and in this way, neuropeptide function may be defined by the rescue of mutant phenotypes. With these ideas in mind, we initiated experiments to describe a D. melanogaster neuropeptide gene, its organization and its expression, as starting points from which to undertake a genetic analysis.
KeywordsFavored Subject Hydrophobic Leader Sequence Cell Body Position Dopa Decarboxylase Gene FMRFamide Gene
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