Distinct expression patterns detected within individual tissues by the GAL4 enhancer trap technique

Genome. 1996 Feb;39(1):174-82. doi: 10.1139/g96-023.


To identify genes that are expressed in specific cell types or tissues during development, we generated enhancer-trap lines in which the yeast transcriptional activator, GAL4, was mobilized throughout the Drosophila genome. The GAL4 lines are part of a two-part system involving GAL4 and its target, the upstream activating sequence (UAS). Detection of GAL4 expression patterns was achieved by crossing individual GAL4 lines with flies carrying the reporter gene lacZ under the transcriptional control of the UAS followed by histochemical and immunocytochemical staining. Here, we present the results of this screen and the characterization of GAL4 lines that show distinct patterns of gene expression during Drosophila development, including embryogenesis, oogenesis, and imaginal disc development. However, we were unable to identify GAL4 lines that were expressed within the germ line or during early embryogenesis. Furthermore, consistent with previous results, we found that the GAL4 enhancer trap technique had a much lower frequency of transposition than has been reported for lacZ enhancer trap screens. Taken together, these results demonstrate both the strengths and weaknesses of the GAL4 enhancer trap technique for identifying unique patterns of gene expression during development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Drosophila / embryology
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Drosophila / growth & development
  • Enhancer Elements, Genetic / genetics*
  • Fungal Proteins*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Genes, Reporter / genetics
  • Genetic Techniques
  • Oogenesis
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins*
  • Transcription Factors*
  • beta-Galactosidase / genetics


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Fungal Proteins
  • GAL4 protein, S cerevisiae
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • beta-Galactosidase