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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Oct 29, 1996; 93(22): 12418–12422.
PMCID: PMC38006

A modular misexpression screen in Drosophila detecting tissue-specific phenotypes.

Abstract

Genetic screens in Drosophila have lead to the discovery of many genes important for patterning and signal transduction in diverse organisms. Traditionally, the phenotypic effects of loss-of-function mutations are analyzed. As an alternative way to link genes and function, I have developed a versatile misexpression screen in Drosophila, the first such screen in higher eukaryotes. The screen identifies genes that, when over- or misexpressed in a pattern of interest, give a specific phenotype or modulate an existing mutant phenotype. It is based on Gal4 transactivation of a mobile enhancer and promoter that "targets" random endogenous genes for expression. The modular design of the screen allows directed expression in any temporal or spatial pattern. When activated in the developing eye, 4% of target inserts gave dominant phenotypes. One insertion was in the gene encoding Ras GTPase-activating protein; its overexpression phenotype was strongly enhanced by a mutation in Ras1. Thus, biologically relevant phenotypes and genetic interactions are identified using this method. The screen is a powerful new tool for developmental genetics; similar approaches can also be developed for other organisms.

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