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Genetics. 1988 Sep;120(1):173-80.

Analysis of the promoter of the Rh2 opsin gene in Drosophila melanogaster.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of California, Berkeley 94720.


We have analyzed the cis-acting regulatory sequences of the Drosophila melanogaster Rh2 gene that encodes the protein component of a rhodopsin which is expressed in ocellar photoreceptor cells. DNA fragments containing the start point of transcription of the Rh2 gene were fused to either the Escherichia coli chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) or lacZ (beta-galactosidase) genes and introduced into the Drosophila germline by P-element-mediated transformation. Expression of the E. coli genes was then used to assay the ability of various sequences from the Rh2 gene to confer upon the indicator genes the Rh2 pattern of expression. Fragments containing between 4.3 kb and 183 bp upstream of the start of transcription plus the first 32 bp of the 5'-untranslated leader were found to result in nearly identical levels of head-specific CAT expression. Deletion of Rh2 sequences distal to position -112 bp resulted in loss of detectable CAT expression from these Rh2/CAT fusion constructs. We have, therefore, defined a region essential for head-specific expression of the Rh2 gene to a region extending from -183 to -112. We have determined the DNA sequence of the Rh2 promoter from -448 to +32 and have found an 11-bp sequence which is also present in the upstream flanking sequences of two other photoreceptor-specific genes (ninaE and ninaC). By histochemical staining of beta-galactosidase expressed under the control of the Rh2 promoter and by analyzing the effect of the ocelliless mutation on the expression of an Rh2/CAT fusion gene, we have been able to demonstrate that this promoter is active in ocelli.

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