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Genetics. 2000 Sep;156(1):173-82.

Two medfly promoters that have originated by recent gene duplication drive distinct sex, tissue and temporal expression patterns.

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  • 1Department of Genetics and Biotechnology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Athens, Panepistimiopolis, Athens 157 01, Greece.


Genes encoding predominantly male-specific serum polypeptides (MSSPs) in the medfly Ceratitis capitata are members of a multigene family that are structurally similar to the genes encoding odorant binding proteins of insects. To study the transcriptional regulation of the genes MSSP-alpha2 and MSSP-beta2, overlapping fragments of their promoters, containing the 5' UTRs and 5' flanking regions, were fused to the lacZ reporter gene and introduced into the medfly genome via Minos-mediated germline transformation. Transgenic flies were functionally assayed for beta-galactosidase activity. Despite their extensive sequence similarity, the two gene promoters show distinct expression patterns of the reporter gene, consistent with previously reported evidence for analogous transcriptional activity of the corresponding endogenous genes. The MSSP-alpha2 promoter drives gene expression specifically in the fat body of the adult males, whereas the MSSP-beta2 promoter directs gene expression in the midgut of both sexes. In contrast, similar transformation experiments in Drosophila melanogaster showed that both promoters drive the expression of the reporter gene in the midgut of adult flies of both sexes. Thus, the very same MSSP-alpha2 promoter fragment directs expression in the adult male fat body in Ceratitis, but in the midgut of both sexes in Drosophila. Our data suggest that through the evolution of the MSSP gene family a limited number of mutations that occurred within certain cis-acting elements, in combination with new medfly-specific trans-acting factors, endowed these recently duplicated genes with distinct sex-, tissue-, and temporal-specific expression patterns.

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