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J Mol Evol. 1993 Mar;36(3):224-33.

The product of the Drosophila melanogaster segment polarity gene armadillo is highly conserved in sequence and expression in the housefly Musca domestica.

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill 27599-3280.


Segmental pattern in Drosophila melanogaster is set up via a set of cell-cell interactions mediated by the products of the segment polarity genes. Among these is the armadillo gene, whose product seems to be required for the reception of an intercellular signal encoded by the wingless gene. As part of our effort to relate the structure of the armadillo protein to its function within the cell, we have examined the evolutionary conservation of the armadillo gene during insect evolution. We have cloned the armadillo gene from the housefly, Musca domestica, which diverged from Drosophila 100 million years ago. The Musca protein is 97.5% identical to that in Drosophila, while the noncoding sequences have diverged extensively. This remarkable degree of conservation at the protein level is mirrored in the expression pattern of the armadillo protein. Antibodies against the Drosophila protein cross-react with a Musca protein of the appropriate size. We have also used these antibodies to show that the Musca armadillo protein has a pattern of expression in larval and adult tissues similar to that of Drosophila armadillo. We discuss the implications of conservation of structure and expression for the cellular role of the armadillo protein and its mammalian homologs.

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