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Mol Cell Biol. 1988 Dec;8(12):5206-15.

The brown protein of Drosophila melanogaster is similar to the white protein and to components of active transport complexes.

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  • 1Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington 98104.


The brown gene of Drosophila melanogaster is required for deposition of pteridine pigments in the compound eye and other tissues. We isolated a ca. 150-kilobase region including brown by microdissection and chromosome walking using cosmids. Among the cDNAs identified by hybridization to the cosmids, one class hybridized to a genomic region that is interrupted in two brown mutants, bw and In(2LR)CK, and to 2.8- and 3.0-kilobase poly(A)+ RNAs which are altered in the mutants. Nucleotide sequencing of these cDNAs revealed that the two transcripts differ as a consequence of alternative poly(A) addition and that both encode the same predicted protein of 675 amino acids. Searches of available databases for amino acid sequence similarities detected a striking overall similarity of this predicted protein to that of the D. melanogaster white gene. The N-terminal portion aligned with the HisP family of membrane-associated ATP-binding proteins, most of which are subunits of active transport complexes in bacteria, and to two regions of the multidrug resistance P-glycoprotein. The C-terminal portion showed a structural similarity to integral membrane components of the same complexes. Taken together with earlier biochemical evidence that brown and white gene products are necessary for uptake of a pteridine precursor and genetic evidence that brown and white proteins interact, our results are consistent with suggestions that these proteins are subunits of a pteridine precursor permease.

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