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J Biol Chem. 1999 Apr 9;274(15):10309-15.

Preferential expression of biotransformation enzymes in the olfactory organs of Drosophila melanogaster, the antennae.

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  • 1Department of Neuroscience and Cell Biology, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School/University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Piscataway, New Jersey 08854, USA.


Biotransformation enzymes have been found in the olfactory epithelium of vertebrates. We now show that in Drosophila melanogaster, a UDP-glycosyltransferase (UGT), as well as a short chain dehydrogenase/reductase and a cytochrome P450 are expressed specifically or preferentially in the olfactory organs, the antennae. The evolutionarily conserved expression of biotransformation enzymes in olfactory organs suggests that they play an important role in olfaction. In addition, we describe five Drosophila UGTs belonging to two families. All five UGTs contain a putative transmembrane domain at their C terminus as is the case for vertebrate UGTs where it is required for enzymatic activity. The primary sequence of the C terminus, including part of the transmembrane domain, differs between the two families but is highly conserved not only within each Drosophila family, but also between the members of one of the Drosophila families and vertebrate UGTs. The partial overlap of the conserved primary sequence with the transmembrane domain suggests that this part of the protein is involved in specific interactions occurring at the membrane surface. The presence of different C termini in the two Drosophila families suggests that they interact with different targets, one of which is conserved between Drosophila and vertebrates.

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