Molecular evolution at the decapentaplegic locus in Drosophila

Stuart J. Newfeld, Richard W. Padgett, Seth D. Findley, Brent G. Richter, Michele Sanicola, Margaret De Cuevas, William M. Gelbart

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Using an elaborate set of cis-regulatory sequences, the decapentaplegic (dpp) gene displays a dynamic pattern of gene expression during development. The C-terminal portion of the DPP protein is processed to generate a secreted signaling molecule belonging to the transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) family. This signal, the DPP ligand, is able to influence the developmental fates of responsive cells in a concentration-dependent fashion. Here we examine the sequence level organization of a significant portion of the dpp locus in Drosophila melanogaster and use interspecific comparisons with D. simulans, D. pseudoobscura and D. virilis to explore the molecular evolution of the gene. Our interspecific analysis identified significant selective constraint on both the nucleotide and amino acid sequences. As expected, interspecific comparison of protein coding sequences shows that the C- terminal ligand region is highly conserved. However, the central portion of the protein is also conserved, while the N-terminal third is quite variable. Comparison of noncoding regions reveals significant stretches of nucleotide identity in the 3' untranslated portion of exon 3 and in the intron between exons 2 and 3. An examination of cDNA sequences representing five classes of dpp transcripts indicates that these transcripts encode the same polypeptide.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-309
Number of pages13
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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