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Mutations in the gene drop-dead (drd) cause diverse phenotypes in adult Drosophila melanogaster including early lethality, neurodegeneration, tracheal defects, gut dysfunction, reduced body mass, and female sterility. Despite the identification of the drd gene itself, the causes of early lethality and neurodegeneration in the mutant flies remain unknown. To determine the pattern of drd expression associated with the neurodegenerative phenotype, knockdown of drd with various Gal4 drivers was performed. Early adult lethality and neurodegeneration were observed upon knockdown of drd in the tracheal system with two independent insertions of the breathless-Gal4 driver and upon knockdown in the tracheal system and elsewhere with the DJ717-Gal4 driver. Surprisingly, rescue of drd expression exclusively in the tracheae in otherwise mutant flies rescued the neurodegenerative phenotype but not adult lethality. Gut dysfunction, as measured by defecation rate, was not rescued in these flies, and gut function appeared normal upon tracheal-specific knockdown of drd. Finally, the hypothesis that tracheal dysfunction in drd mutants results in hypoxia was tested. Hypoxia-sensitive reporter transgenes (LDH-Gal4 and LDH-LacZ) were placed on a drd mutant background, but enhanced expression of these reporters was not observed. In addition, manipulation of drd expression in the tracheae did not affect expression of the hypoxia-induced genes LDH, tango, and similar. Overall, these results indicate that there are at least two causes of adult lethality in drd mutants, that gut dysfunction and neurodegeneration are independent phenotypes, and that neurodegeneration is associated with tracheal expression of drd but not with hypoxia.
Sansone, Christine Lynn and Blumenthal, Edward M., "Neurodegeneration in Drop-Dead Mutant Drosophila melanogaster Is Associated with the Respiratory System but Not with Hypoxia" (2013). Biological Sciences Faculty Research and Publications. 148.