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Biochem J. 2002 Nov 15;368(Pt 1):333-40.

Identification of Drosophila melanogaster yellow-f and yellow-f2 proteins as dopachrome-conversion enzymes.

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  • 1Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2001 South Lincoln Avenue, Urbana, IL 61802, U.S.A.


This study describes the identification of Drosophila yellow-f and yellow-f2 as dopachrome-conversion enzymes responsible for catalysing the conversion of dopachrome into 5,6-dihydroxyindole in the melanization pathway. Drosophila yellow -y gene and yellow -b, -c, -f and -f2 genes were expressed in an insect cell/baculovirus expression system and their corresponding recombinant proteins were screened for dopachrome-conversion enzyme activity. Among the yellow and yellow -related genes, the yellow -f and yellow -f2 genes were identified as the genes coding for Drosophila dopachrome-conversion enzyme based on the high activity of their recombinant proteins in catalysing the production of 5,6-dihydroxyindole from dopachrome. Both yellow-f and yellow-f2 are capable of mediating a decarboxylative structural rearrangement of dopachrome, as well as an isomerization/tautomerization of dopamine chrome and dopa methyl ester chrome. Northern hybridization revealed the transcription of yellow -f in larvae and pupae, but a high abundance of mRNA was observed in later larval and early pupal stages. In contrast, yellow-f2 transcripts were present at all stages, but high abundance of its mRNA was observed in later-stage pupae and adults. These data indicate that yellow-f and yellow-f2 complement each other during Drosophila development and that the yellow-f is involved in larval and pupal melanization, and yellow-f2 plays a major role in melanization reactions in Drosophila during later pupal and adult development. Results from this study provide the groundwork towards a better understanding of the physiological roles of the Drosophila yellow gene family.

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