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Xanthine dehydrogenase (XDH) is a member of the molybdenum hydroxylase family of enzymes catalyzing the oxidation of hypoxanthine and xanthine to uric acid. The enzyme is also required for the production of one of the major Drosophila eye pigments, drosopterin. The XDH gene has been isolated in many species representing a broad cross section of the major groups of living organisms, including the cDNA encoding XDH from the Mediterranean fruit fly Ceratitis capitata (CcXDH) described here. CcXDH is closely related to other insect XDHs and is able to rescue the phenotype of the Drosophila melanogaster XDH mutant, rosy, in germline transformation experiments. A previously identified medfly mutant, termed rosy, whose phenotype is suggestive of a disruption in XDH function, has been examined for possible mutations in the XDH gene. However, we find no direct evidence that a mutation in the CcXDH gene or that a reduction in the CcXDH enzyme activity is present in rosy medflies. Conclusive studies of the nature of the medfly rosy mutant will require rescue by germline transformation of mutant medflies.
An approximately 14-kb region of genomic DNA encoding the wild-type white eye (w+) color gene from the medfly, Ceratitis capitata has been cloned and characterized at the molecular level. Comparison of the intron-exon organization of this locus among several dipteran insects reveals distinct organizational patterns that are consistent with the phylogenetic relationships of these flies and the dendrogram of the predicted primary amino acid sequence of the white loci. An examination of w+ expression during medfly development has been carried out, displaying overall similarity to corresponding studies for white gene homologues in Drosophila melanogaster and other insects. Interestingly, we have detected two phenotypically neutral allelic forms of the locus that have arisen as the result of an apparently novel insertion or deletion event located in the large first intron of the medfly white locus. Cloning and sequencing of two mutant white alleles, w1 and w2, from the we,wp and M245 strains, respectively, indicate that the mutant conditions in these strains are the result of independent events--a frameshift mutation in exon 6 for w1 and a deletion including a large part of exon 2 in the case of w2.
Reliable germline transformation is required for molecular studies and ultimately for genetic control of economically important insects, such as the Mediterranean fruit fly (medfly) Ceratitis capitata. A prerequisite for the establishment and maintenance of transformant lines is selectable or phenotypically dominant markers. To this end, a complementary DNA clone derived from the medfly white gene was isolated, which showed substantial similarity to white genes in Drosophila melanogaster and other Diptera. It is correlated with a spontaneous mutation causing white eyes in the medfly and can be used to restore partial eye color in transgenic Drosophila carrying a null mutation in the endogenous white gene.