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Genetics. 2001 Oct;159(2):635-45.

Interallelic complementation at the Drosophila melanogaster gastrulation defective locus defines discrete functional domains of the protein.

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  • 1Cornell Graduate School of Medicine, New York, New York 10021, USA.


The gastrulation defective (gd) locus encodes a novel serine protease that is involved in specifying the dorsal-ventral axis during embryonic development. Mutant alleles of gd have been classified into three complementation groups, two of which exhibit strong interallelic (intragenic) complementation. To understand the molecular basis of this interallelic complementation, we examined the complementation behavior of additional mutant alleles and sequenced alleles in all complementation groups. The data suggest that there are two discrete functional domains of Gd. A two-domain model of Gd suggesting that it is structurally similar to mammalian complement factors C2 and B has been previously proposed. To test this model we performed SP6 RNA microinjection to assay for activities associated with various domains of Gd. The microinjection data are consistent with the complement factor C2/B-like model. Site-directed mutagenesis suggests that Gd functions as a serine protease. An allele-specific interaction between an autoactivating form of Snake (Snk) and a gd allele altered in the protease domain suggests that Gd directly activates Snk in a protease activation cascade. We propose a model in which Gd is expressed during late oogenesis and bound within the perivitelline space but only becomes catalytically active during embryogenesis.

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