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Genetics. 1993 Apr;133(4):943-54.

Unusual variability of the Drosophila melanogaster ref(2)P protein which controls the multiplication of sigma rhabdovirus.

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Laboratoire de Génétique des Virus, CNRS, Gif sur Yvette, France.


The ref(2)P gene of Drosophila melanogaster was identified by the discovery of two alleles, Po and Pp, respectively, permissive and restrictive for sigma rhabdovirus multiplication. A surprising variability of this gene was first noticed by the observation of size differences between the transcripts of permissive and restrictive alleles. In this paper, another restrictive allele, Pn, clearly distinct from Pp, is described: it exhibits a weaker antiviral effect than Pp and differs from Pp by its molecular structure. Five types of alleles were distinguished on the basis of their molecular structure, as revealed by S1 nuclease analysis of 17 D. melanogaster strains; three alleles were permissive and two restrictive. Comparison of the sequences of four haplotypes revealed numerous point mutations, two deletions (21 and 24 bp) and a complex event involving a 3-bp deletion, all affected the coding region. The unusual variability of the ref(2)P locus was confirmed by the high ratio of amino acid replacements to synonymous mutations (7:1), as compared to that of other genes, such as the Adh (2:42). Nevertheless, nucleotide sequence comparison with the Drosophila erecta ref(2)P gene shows that selective pressures are exerted to maintain the existence of a functional protein. The effects of this high variability on the ref(2)P protein are discussed in relation to its specific antiviral properties and to its function in D. melanogaster, where it is required for male fertility.

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