The temporal pattern of vitellogenin synthesis in Drosophila grimshawi

J Exp Zool. 1989 Sep;251(3):339-48. doi: 10.1002/jez.1402510310.


The temporal pattern of protein production and, in particular, vitellogenin protein synthesis during the sexual maturation of Drosophila grimshawi females has been studied in vivo by briefly feeding the flies with 35S-methionine and 3H-amino acids. The overall level of incorporation was very low in young flies; it then progressively increased to reach a maximum with the onset of sexual maturity at 13-15 days. Sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) analyses revealed three classes of proteins: those synthesized throughout the age spectrum, which constitute the majority of protein species; proteins synthesized primarily or only in young flies; and proteins synthesized only by the older flies. In this Drosophila species, the three vitellogenins (V1, V2, and V3) appeared to be synthesized in a two-phase pattern. In the first phase, small quantities of V1 and V2 were detected immunologically in the fat body and hemolymph of newly emerged and 1 day-old flies. These proteins did not accumulate in the hemolymph or the ovaries, apparently being unstable proteins. The second phase commenced in early vitellogenesis (7-9 days of age) with synthesis in the fat body of small quantities of V1 and V2, followed by V3 proteins. These proteins were secreted and accumulated in the hemolymph and 24 h later were found in the ovaries. Their quantities increased rapidly and a steady state of synthesis, release into the hemolymph, and uptake by the ovaries was reached by days 13-15. We have estimated that during the steady state of vitellogenin synthesis, a fly can synthesize in 24 h at least 152 micrograms of vitellogenins, which is more than 2% of its body weight, at an average rate of about 6.3 micrograms vitellogenins/h. About 2 micrograms of this are synthesized in the fat body, and about 4 micrograms in the ovaries. These findings are discussed in terms of their physiological implications and contrasted with the available data on Drosophila melanogaster.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Drosophila / metabolism*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Female
  • Introns
  • Restriction Mapping
  • Sexual Maturation
  • Species Specificity
  • Sulfur Radioisotopes
  • Tritium
  • Vitellogenins / biosynthesis*
  • Vitellogenins / genetics


  • Amino Acids
  • Sulfur Radioisotopes
  • Vitellogenins
  • Tritium