Background: Chromosomal deletions are used extensively in Drosophila melanogaster genetics research. Deletion mapping is the primary method used for fine-scale gene localization. Effective and efficient deletion mapping requires both extensive genomic coverage and a high density of molecularly defined breakpoints across the genome.
Results: A large-scale resource development project at the Bloomington Drosophila Stock Center has improved the choice of deletions beyond that provided by previous projects. FLP-mediated recombination between FRT-bearing transposon insertions was used to generate deletions, because it is efficient and provides single-nucleotide resolution in planning deletion screens. The 793 deletions generated pushed coverage of the euchromatic genome to 98.4%. Gaps in coverage contain haplolethal and haplosterile genes, but the sizes of these gaps were minimized by flanking these genes as closely as possible with deletions. In improving coverage, a complete inventory of haplolethal and haplosterile genes was generated and extensive information on other haploinsufficient genes was compiled. To aid mapping experiments, a subset of deletions was organized into a Deficiency Kit to provide maximal coverage efficiently. To improve the resolution of deletion mapping, screens were planned to distribute deletion breakpoints evenly across the genome. The median chromosomal interval between breakpoints now contains only nine genes and 377 intervals contain only single genes.
Conclusions: Drosophila melanogaster now has the most extensive genomic deletion coverage and breakpoint subdivision as well as the most comprehensive inventory of haploinsufficient genes of any multicellular organism. The improved selection of chromosomal deletion strains will be useful to nearly all Drosophila researchers.