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Genetics. 2003 Oct;165(2):613-21.

A family of genes clustered at the Triplo-lethal locus of Drosophila melanogaster has an unusual evolutionary history and significant synteny with Anopheles gambiae.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tennessee 37208, USA.


Within the unique Triplo-lethal region (Tpl) of the Drosophila melanogaster genome we have found a cluster of 20 genes encoding a novel family of proteins. This family is also present in the Anopheles gambiae genome and displays remarkable synteny and sequence conservation with the Drosophila cluster. The family is also present in the sequenced genome of D. pseudoobscura, and homologs have been found in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes and in four other insect orders, but it is not present in the sequenced genome of any noninsect species. Phylogenetic analysis suggests that the cluster evolved prior to the divergence of Drosophila and Anopheles (250 MYA) and has been highly conserved since. The ratio of synonymous to nonsynonymous substitutions and the high codon bias suggest that there has been selection on this family both for expression level and function. We hypothesize that this gene family is Tpl, name it the Osiris family, and consider possible functions. We also predict that this family of proteins, due to the unique dosage sensitivity and the lack of homologs in noninsect species, would be a good target for genetic engineering or novel insecticides.

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