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Cell Res. 2008 Nov;18(11):1114-27. doi: 10.1038/cr.2008.295.

A large-scale functional approach to uncover human genes and pathways in Drosophila.

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Institute of Developmental Biology and Molecular Medicine and School of Life Science, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, China.


We demonstrate the feasibility of performing a systematic screen for human gene functions in Drosophila by assaying for their ability to induce overexpression phenotypes. Over 1 500 transgenic fly lines corresponding to 236 human genes have been established. In all, 51 lines are capable of eliciting a phenotype suggesting that the human genes are functional. These heterologous genes are functionally relevant as we have found a similar mutant phenotype caused either by a dominant negative mutant form of the human ribosomal protein L8 gene or by RNAi downregulation of the Drosophila RPL8. Significantly, the Drosophila RPL8 mutant can be rescued by wild-type human RPL8. We also provide genetic evidence that Drosophila RPL8 is a new member of the insulin signaling pathway. In summary, the functions of many human genes appear to be highly conserved, and the ability to identify them in Drosophila represents a powerful genetic tool for large-scale analysis of human transcripts in vivo.

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