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Sci Rep. 2017 Feb 20;7:42663. doi: 10.1038/srep42663.

Natural and laboratory mutations in kuzbanian are associated with zinc stress phenotypes in Drosophila melanogaster.

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Institute of Evolutionary Biology (CSIC-Universitat Pompeu Fabra), Passeig Marítim de la Barceloneta 37-49. 08003 Barcelona. Spain.
Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST), 18 Hoang Quoc Viet st, Hanoi, Vietnam.


Organisms must cope with altered environmental conditions such as high concentrations of heavy metals. Stress response to heavy metals is mediated by the metal-responsive transcription factor 1 (MTF-1), which is conserved from Drosophila to humans. MTF-1 binds to metal response elements (MREs) and changes the expression of target genes. kuzbanian (kuz), a metalloendopeptidase that activates the evolutionary conserved Notch signaling pathway, has been identified as an MTF-1 target gene. We have previously identified a putatively adaptive transposable element in the Drosophila melanogaster genome, named FBti0019170, inserted in a kuz intron. In this work, we investigated whether a laboratory mutant stock overexpressing kuz is associated with zinc stress phenotypes. We found that both embryos and adult flies overexpressing kuz are more tolerant to zinc compared with wild-type flies. On the other hand, we found that the effect of FBti0019170 on zinc stress tolerance depends on developmental stage and genetic background. Moreover, in the majority of the genetic backgrounds analyzed, FBti0019170 has a deleterious effect in unpolluted environments in pre-adult stages. These results highlight the complexity of natural mutations and suggest that besides laboratory mutations, natural mutations should be studied in order to accurately characterize gene function and evolution.

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