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Methods. 1999 Jul;18(3):377-400.

DNA repair defects and other (mus)takes in Drosophila melanogaster.

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Department of Anatomy and Physiology, University of Dundee, Dundee, DD1 4HN, Scotland, United Kingdom.


Preservation of the structural integrity of DNA in any organism is crucial to its health and survival. Such preservation is achieved by an extraordinary cellular arsenal of damage surveillance and repair functions, many of which are now being defined at the gene and protein levels. Mutants hypersensitive to the killing effects of DNA-damaging agents have been instrumental in helping to identify DNA repair-related genes and to elucidate repair mechanisms. In Drosophila melanogaster, such strains are generally referred to as mutagen-sensitive (mus) mutants and currently define more than 30 genetic loci. Whereas most mus mutants have been recovered on the basis of hypersensitivity to the monofunctional alkylating agent methyl methanesulfonate, they nevertheless constitute a phenotypically diverse group, with many mutants having effects beyond mutagen sensitivity. These phenotypes include meiotic dysfunctions, somatic chromosome instabilities, chromatin abnormalities, and cell proliferation defects. Within the last few years numerous mus and other DNA repair-related genes of Drosophila have been molecularly cloned, providing new insights into the functions of these genes. This article outlines strategies for isolating mus mutations and reviews recent advances in the Drosophila DNA repair field, emphasizing mutant analysis and gene cloning.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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