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Genetics. 2000 Feb;154(2):713-24.

Functional domains of the Drosophila bicaudal-D protein.

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Waksman Institute of Microbiology, Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey 08854-8020, USA.


The localization of oocyte-specific determinants in the form of mRNAs to the pro-oocyte is essential for the establishment of oocyte identity. Localization of the Bicaudal-D (Bic-D) protein to the presumptive oocyte is required for the accumulation of Bic-D and other mRNAs to the pro-oocyte. The Bic-D protein contains four well-defined heptad repeat domains characteristic of intermediate filament proteins, and several of the mutations in Bic-D map to these conserved domains. We have undertaken a structure-function analysis of Bic-D by testing the function of mutant Bic-D transgenes (Bic-D(H)) deleted for each of the heptad repeat domains in a Bic-D null background. Our transgenic studies indicate that only the C-terminal heptad repeat deletion results in a protein that has lost zygotic and ovarian functions. The three other deletions result in proteins with full zygotic function, but with affected ovarian function. The functional importance of each domain is well correlated with its conservation in evolution. The analysis of females heterozygous for Bic-D(H) and the existing alleles Bic-D(PA66) or Bic-D(R26) reveals that Bic-D(R26) as well as some of Bic-D(H) transgenes have antimorphic effects. The yeast two-hybrid interaction assay shows that Bic-D forms homodimers. Furthermore, we found that Bic-D exists as a multimeric protein complex consisting of Egl and at least two Bic-D monomers.

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