An assay to detect in vivo Y chromosome loss in Drosophila wing disc cells

G3 (Bethesda). 2012 Sep;2(9):1095-102. doi: 10.1534/g3.112.002899. Epub 2012 Sep 1.


Loss of the Y chromosome in Drosophila has no impact on cell viability and therefore allows us to assay the impact of environmental agents and genetic alterations on chromosomal loss. To detect in vivo chromosome loss in cells of the developing Drosophila wing primordia, we first engineered a Y chromosome with an attP docking site. By making use of the ΦC31 integrase system, we site-specifically integrated a genomic transgene encompassing the multiple wing hair (mwh) locus into this attP site, leading to a mwh(+)Y chromosome. This chromosome fully rescues the mwh mutant phenotype, an excellent recessive wing cell marker mutation. Loss of this mwh(+)Y chromosome in wing primordial cells then leads to manifestation of the mwh mutant phenotype in mwh-homozygous cells. The forming mwh clones permit us to quantify the effect of agents and genetic alterations by assaying frequency and size of the mwh mosaic spots. To illustrate the use of the mwh(+)Y loss system, the effects of four known mutagens (X-rays, colchicine, ethyl methanesulfonate, and formaldehyde) and two genetic conditions (loss- and gain-of-function lodestar mutant alleles) are documented. The procedure is simple, sensitive, and inexpensive.

Keywords: Drosophila; Y chromosome; chromosome loss; multiple wing hair; wing mosaic spots.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Chromosome Deletion*
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Drosophila / metabolism
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism
  • Genomic Instability
  • Male
  • Mosaicism / chemically induced
  • Mosaicism / drug effects
  • Mosaicism / radiation effects
  • Phenotype
  • Wings, Animal / metabolism*
  • Wings, Animal / ultrastructure
  • Y Chromosome*


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • lds protein, Drosophila
  • mwh protein, Drosophila