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Genetics. 2002 Oct; 162(2): 785–797.
PMCID: PMC1462297

Nucleotide polymorphism in the Est6 promoter, which is widespread in derived populations of Drosophila melanogaster, changes the level of Esterase 6 expressed in the male ejaculatory duct.


Previous analysis of an Australian population of D. melanogaster revealed two predominant Est6 promoter haplotypes, P1 and P7. These haplotypes, which differ at 14 sites over a 325-bp region, are associated with a 15-20% difference in male EST6 activity. Here we show that the P1/P7 sequence difference causes the male activity variation by recreating the activity difference among >60 independently transformed lines containing representative P1 or P7 promoter alleles fused to an identical Est6 coding region. Furthermore we find that the whole fly difference reflects about a twofold difference in EST6 activity in the anterior sperm ejaculatory duct. EST6 activity variation in this tissue is known to affect reproductive fitness. Using a combination of RFLP analysis and DNA sequencing, we show that P1 and P7 are predominant in six populations from America, Asia, and Australia, albeit less frequent in a population from the presumptively ancestral east African range of the species. The sequence data show significant departures from neutral expectations for the derived American and Australian populations but not the presumptively ancestral Zimbabwean population. Thus the P1/P7 difference could be a major source of adaptively significant EST6 activity variation through much of the now cosmopolitan range of D. melanogaster.

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Selected References

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