Defective gut function in drop-dead mutant Drosophila

J Insect Physiol. 2009 Sep;55(9):834-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2009.05.011. Epub 2009 Jun 11.


Mutation of the gene drop-dead (drd) causes adult Drosophila to die within 2 weeks of eclosion and is associated with reduced rates of defecation and increased volumes of crop contents. In the current study, we demonstrate that flies carrying the strong allele drd(lwf) display a reduction in the transfer of ingested food from the crop to the midgut, as measured both as a change in the steady-state distribution of food within the gut and also in the rates of crop emptying and midgut filling following a single meal. Mutant flies have abnormal triglyceride (TG) and glycogen stores over the first 4 days post-eclosion, consistent with their inability to move food into the midgut for digestion and nutrient absorption. However, the lifespan of mutants was dependent upon food presence and quality, suggesting that at least some individual flies were able to digest some food. Finally, spontaneous motility of the crop was abnormal in drd(lwf) flies, with the crops of mutant flies contracting significantly more rapidly than those of heterozygous controls. We therefore hypothesize that mutation of drd causes a structural or regulatory defect that inhibits the entry of food into the midgut.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Digestion
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Drosophila / physiology*
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics*
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / physiology
  • Glycogen / metabolism
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics*
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Mutation*
  • Triglycerides / metabolism


  • Drd protein, Drosophila
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Triglycerides
  • Glycogen