An essential cell division gene of Drosophila, absent from Saccharomyces, encodes an unusual protein with tubulin-like and myosin-like peptide motifs

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 May 13;94(10):5189-94. doi: 10.1073/pnas.94.10.5189.


Null mutations at the misato locus of Drosophila melanogaster are associated with irregular chromosomal segregation at cell division. The consequences for morphogenesis are that mutant larvae are almost devoid of imaginal disk tissue, have a reduction in brain size, and die before the late third-instar larval stage. To analyze these findings, we isolated cDNAs in and around the misato locus, mapped the breakpoints of chromosomal deficiencies, determined which transcript corresponded to the misato gene, rescued the cell division defects in transgenic organisms, and sequenced the genomic DNA. Database searches revealed that misato codes for a novel protein, the N-terminal half of which contains a mixture of peptide motifs found in alpha-, beta-, and gamma-tubulins, as well as a motif related to part of the myosin heavy chain proteins. The sequence characteristics of misato indicate either that it arose from an ancestral tubulin-like gene, different parts of which underwent convergent evolution to resemble motifs in the conventional tubulins, or that it arose by the capture of motifs from different tubulin genes. The Saccharomyces cerevisiae genome lacks a true homolog of the misato gene, and this finding highlights the emerging problem of assigning functional attributes to orphan genes that occur only in some evolutionary lineages.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / chemistry
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / genetics*
  • Cell Division / genetics*
  • Chromosome Deletion
  • Chromosome Mapping*
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins*
  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • DNA, Complementary
  • Drosophila Proteins*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / growth & development
  • Female
  • Genes, Insect*
  • Genes, Lethal*
  • Information Systems
  • Karyotyping
  • Larva
  • Male
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Myosins / chemistry
  • Nervous System / embryology
  • Nervous System / growth & development
  • Restriction Mapping
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / cytology
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics*
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Tubulin / chemistry


  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • DNA, Complementary
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Tubulin
  • mst protein, Drosophila
  • Myosins

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AF017777