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PLoS One. 2017 Mar 29;12(3):e0172780. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0172780. eCollection 2017.

A new paramutation-like example at the Delta gene of Drosophila.

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UMR 1355-7254 INRA/Université Côte d'Azur/CNRS, Institut Sophia Agrobiotech, 400 route des Chappes, Sophia Antipolis, France.
Université Côte d'Azur, Inserm U1091-CNRS U7277, Nice, France.


The hereditary transmission of a phenotype independent from DNA sequence implies epigenetic effects. Paramutation is a heritable epigenetic phenomenon observed in plants and animals. To investigate paramutation in Drosophila, we used the P{ry+t7.2 = PZ}Dl05151 P-element insertion in the Drosophila melanogaster genome that causes a dominant visible phenotype: the presence of characteristic extra-veins in the fly wings. This extra-vein phenotype presents variable expressivity and incomplete penetrance. The insert is a PZ element located 680 bp upstream from the ATG of the Delta (Dl) gene, encoding the Notch ligand involved in wing vein development, and acts as a null allele. In the G2 offspring from a cross between the heterozygous transgenic stock and wild-type flies, we observed the transmission of the extra-vein phenotype to wild-type flies without the transgene, independently of gender and across many generations. This is a "paramutation-like" example in the fly: the heritable transmission of a phenotypic change not linked to a classical genetic mutation. A "paramutagenic" allele in heterozygotes transmits the phenotype of the heterozygotes to the wild-type allele ("paramutant") in a stable manner through generations. Distinct from paramutation events so far described in Drosophila, here we deal with a dominant effect on a single gene involving variable hereditary signals.

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