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Georgia Journal of Science

Article Title

GENETIC ANNOTATION AND BIOINFORMATIC ANALYSIS OF THE lin-28, Dsor1, AND rictor GENES IN DROSOPHILA WILLISTONI

Abstract

Drosophila melanogaster is a widely-used model organism in biological research due to the many conserved genes and pathways throughout the genome compared to various organisms, including humans. The major goal of the Genomics Education Partnership Pathways Project is to evaluate the evolution of the DNA regulatory elements of the genes of the insulin-signaling pathway within the genus Drosophila. The insulin-signalling pathway is important because it regulates glucose homeostasis in animals, allowing for proper growth and development. In order to identify the regulatory elements, it is necessary to build gene models for all 64 pathway genes across 28 species of Drosophila. The goal of the research reported here was to evaluate the evolution of three genes at different pathway positions. One hypothesis is that genes associated with proteins further along the pathway are more constrained and less likely to diverge over time. Therefore, we identified and built models for three genes at different positions in the pathway in D. willistoni, a distant relative of D. melanogaster: lin-28 (near the start of the pathway), Dsor1, and rictor (near the bottom of the pathway). Unexpectedly, the amino acid sequences predicted from the new gene models did not correspond to the genes' positions in the pathway. Specifically, the percent identities between genes in the two species were 67.8% (lin-28), 94.1% (Dsor1), and 73.2% (rictor). Interestingly, the results support an alternative hypothesis that the evolution of the genes is more constrained by the number of genetic interactions: 2 (lin-28), 10 (rictor), and 50 (Dsor1).

Acknowledgements

Genomics Education Partnership, CSU Biology Department

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