Identification of fat-cell enhancer regions in Drosophila melanogaster.

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Abstract or Description

The insect fat body is a dynamic tissue involved in maintaining homeostasis. It functions not only in energy storage and intermediary metabolism but also in detoxification, communication and the immune response. Some of these functions are confined to distinct groups of fat body cells. In Drosophila melanogaster, discrete precursor-cell clusters populate the fat body [Hoshizaki, D.K., Blackburn, T., Price, C., Ghosh, M., Miles, K., Ragucci, M. and Sweis, R. (1994) Embryonic fat-cell lineage in Drosophila melanogaster. Development 120: 2489-2499; Hoshizaki, D.K., Lunz, R., Ghosh, M. and Johnson, W. (1995) Identification of fat-cell enhancer activity in Drosophila melanogaster using P-element enhancer traps. Genome 38: 497-506; Riechmann, V., Rehorn, K.P., Reuter, R. and Leptin, M. (1998) The genetic control of the distinction between fat body and gonadal mesoderm in Drosophila. Development 125: 713-723]. Whether these clusters populate defined morphological regions or whether they represent the precursors to functionally similar groups of fat-body cells has not been formally demonstrated. We have identified a 2.1 kb enhancer region from serpent (srp), a GATA transcription factor gene that is sufficient to induce fat-cell formation. This enhancer region drives expression in specific groups of precursor-cell clusters, which we show give rise to defined regions of the mature embryonic fat body. We present evidence that srp expression in different precursor fat cells is controlled by independent cis-acting regulatory regions, and we have tested the role of trans-acting factors in the specification of some of these cells. We suggest that the different positional cues regulating srp expression, and therefore general fat-cell specification, might also be involved in the functional specialization of fat cells. This may be a common mechanism in insects to explain the origin of biochemically distinct regions of the larval/adult fat body.




Published In

Insect molecular biology, 11, 1, 67-77.