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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Comparative studies of the induction of somatic eye-color mutations in an unstable strain of Drosophila melanogaster by MMS and X-rays at different developmental stages.

An unstable white locus in Drosophila melanogaster originally described by Rasmuson and Green (1974) and further by Rasmuson et al. (1978, 1980) contains an IS element. This constellation interacts with the zeste mutation and forms a mutationally unstable system that is sensitive to a variety of mutagens. Mutational shifts between zeste and wild-type eye color as well as deletions and transpositions of the white locus are frequently occurring in the unstable X-chromosome in germ line and in somatic tissue. Germinal mutations from zeste to wild-type eye color are associated with an insertion of a piece of DNA, proximal to the wsp site, and the shifts from red to zeste are caused by an excision of the same piece (Rasmuson, in preparation). Mutations to pigmentless phenotype are interpreted as deletions of the white locus, while they always are irreversible and show non-complementation with wsp. The somatic system can be used as a screening test for potential mutagens, described by Rasmuson et al. (1984). This survey is an attempt to correlate the size of the mutated area of the eyes with the age of the larvae at mutagen treatment. X-Rays and MMS were used to give an indication of the mechanism of the instability, according to the different kinds of DNA damage induced. The results show that the mean size of red spots decreased with increasing age of larvae at treatment, while the mutation frequencies were increased because of the multiplication of the cells in the eye anlage susceptible to the mutagens. This is contradictory to the hypothesis maintained by Fahmy and Fahmy (1980) that the somatic shifts are not mutagenic but epigenetic events, due to altered regulation of the gene expression. Red spots induced with MMS are smaller in size than X-ray-induced red spots, indicating a delay in the establishment of mutations from chemically-induced lesions compared to irradiation damage. White spots on the other hand were equally large in size, irrespective of inducing agent and about twice the size of the chemically-induced red spots, implying a faster and more direct action for fixation of deletions than for the production of MMS induced shifts in eye color from zeste to red.[1]


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