Characterization of a sex-influenced modifier of gene expression and suppressor of position-effect variegation in Drosophila

Mol Gen Genet. 1996 Mar 20;250(5):601-13. doi: 10.1007/BF02174448.


Modifier of white (Mow), a dominant transacting gene, has been identified through a mutagenic screen for second-site loci that alter the level of expression of the white eye color locus. Mow reduces the expression of white in most developmental stages, but enhances its expression in the pupal stage, the time at which the major contribution to the adult phenotype is made. Tests with an Alcohol dehydrogenase promoter-white reporter and a series of white truncation constructs have shown that Mow fails to affect the reporter; cis-regulatory mutations of white also show no response, suggesting a requirement for white regulatory domains for interaction with Mow. A quantitative analysis of steady-state transcript levels reveals that the white mRNA level decreases in the presence of one dose of Mow in larvae and adults, but the reduction is greater in females than males. Two other functionally related genes, brown and scarlet, also exhibit a similar sexually dimorphic alteration in expression, mediated by Mow. In the mid-pupal stage, by contrast, the level of white and brown mRNA is increased by Mow. In addition, Mow acts as a weak suppressor of position effect variegation (PEV). These observations suggest a connection between dosage modulation of gene expression and suppression of position-effect variegation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Dehydrogenase / genetics
  • Animals
  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / growth & development
  • Eye Color / genetics*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Genes, Dominant
  • Genes, Insect
  • Genotype
  • Male
  • Mutagenesis
  • Phenotype
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Pupa
  • Regulatory Sequences, Nucleic Acid
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Suppression, Genetic*
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Transcriptional Activation


  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Alcohol Dehydrogenase