As the Human Genome and Drosophila Genome Projects were completed, it became clear that functions of human disease-associated genes may be elucidated by studying the phenotypic expression of mutations affecting their structural or functional homologs in Drosophila.Genomic diseases were identified as a new class of human disorders. Their cause is recombination, which takes place at gene-flanking duplicons to generate chromosome aberrations such as deletions, duplications, inversions, and translocations. The resulting imbalance of the dosage of developmentally important genes arises at a frequency of 10-3 (higher than the mutation rate of individual genes) and leads to syndromes with multiple manifestations, including cognitive defects. Genomic DNA fragments were cloned from the Drosophila melanogaster agnostic locus, whose mutations impair learning ability and memory. As a result, the locus was exactly localized in X-chromosome region 11AB containing the LIM kinase 1 (LIMK1) gene (CG1848), which is conserved among many species. Hemizygosity for the LIMK1 gene, which is caused by recombination at neighboring extended repeats, underlies cognitive disorders in human Williams syndrome. LIMK1 is a component of the integrin signaling cascade, which regulates the functions of the actin cytoskeleton, synaptogenesis, and morphogenesis in the developing brain. Immunofluorescence analysis revealed LIMK1 in all subdomains of the central complex and the visual system of Drosophila melanogaster.Like in the human genome, theD. melanogaster region is flanked by numerous repeats, which were detected by molecular genetic methods and analysis of ectopic chromosome pairing. The repeats determined a higher rate of spontaneous and induced recombination, including unequal crossing over, in theagnostic gene region. Hence, the agnostic locus was considered as the first D. melanogaster model suitable for studying the genetic defect associated with Williams syndrome in human.
Russian Journal of Genetics – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 18, 2004
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