Genetic interactions of modifier genes and modifiable alleles in Drosophila melanogaster

Genetics. 1988 Jun;119(2):391-7.


We have examined the effects of mutations in the six allele-specific modifier genes su(Hw), e(we), su(f), su(s), su(wa), and su(pr) on the expression of 18 modifiable alleles, situated at 11 loci. Ten of the modifiable alleles are associated with insertions of the gypsy retrotransposon and the others include alleles associated with insertions of copia and 412. We tested or retested 90 of the 108 possible combinations and examined the expression of modifiable alleles in flies mutant for pairs of modifier genes in various heterozygous and homozygous configurations. Our principal findings are: (1) a screen of 40,000 mutagenized X chromosomes yielded three new mutations in known modifier genes, but revealed no new modifier genes; (2) the modification effects of different mutations in a given modifier gene were qualitatively similar; (3) each of the six modifiers suppressed some modifiable alleles, enhanced others, and had no noticeable effect on still others; (4) the modifier genes could be placed in four classes, according to their effects on the gypsy-insertion alleles; and (5) the effects of mutations in different modifier genes combined additively. Implications of these results for models of modifier gene action are discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alleles*
  • Animals
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Enhancer Elements, Genetic
  • Female
  • Genes, Regulator*
  • Genotype
  • Heterozygote
  • Mutation
  • Suppression, Genetic
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • DNA Transposable Elements