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Genetics. Aug 2004; 167(4): 1801–1811.
PMCID: PMC1470976

A piggyBac transposon gene trap for the analysis of gene expression and function in Drosophila.


P-element-based gene and enhancer trap strategies have provided a wealth of information on the expression and function of genes in Drosophila melanogaster. Here we present a new vector that utilizes the simple insertion requirements of the piggyBac transposon, coupled to a splice acceptor (SA) site fused to the sequence encoding enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) and a transcriptional terminator. Mobilization of the piggyBac splice site gene trap vector (PBss) was accomplished by heat-shock-induced expression of piggyBac transposase (PBase). We show that insertion of PBss into genes leads to fusions between the gene's mRNA and the PBss-encoded EGFP transcripts. As heterozygotes, these fusions report the normal pattern of expression of the trapped gene. As homozygotes, these fusions can inactivate the gene and lead to lethality. Molecular characterization of PBss insertion events shows that they are single copy, that they always occur at TTAA sequences, and that splicing utilizes the engineered splice site in PBss. In those instances where protein-EGFP fusions are predicted to occur, the subcellular localization of the wild-type protein can be inferred from the localization of the EGFP fusion protein. These experiments highlight the utility of the PBss system for expanding the functional genomics tools that are available in Drosophila.

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Selected References

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