Green fluorescent protein/beta-galactosidase double reporters for visualizing Drosophila gene expression patterns

Dev Genet. 1997;20(4):338-47. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1520-6408(1997)20:4<338::AID-DVG5>3.0.CO;2-8.


We characterized 120 novel yeast Ga14-targeted enhancer trap lines in Drosophila using upstream activating sequence (UAS) reporter plasmids incorporating newly constructed fusions of Aequorea victoria green fluorescent protein (GFP) and Escherichia coli beta-galactosidase genes. Direct comparisons of GFP epifluorescence and beta-galactosidase staining revealed that both proteins function comparably to their unconjugated counterparts within a wide variety of Drosophila tissues. Generally, both reporters accumulated in similar patterns within individual lines, but in some tissues, e.g., brain, GFP staining was more reliable than that of beta-galactosidase, whereas in other tissues, most notably tests and ovaries, the converse was true. In cases of weak enhancers, we occasionally could detect beta-galactosidase staining in the absence of discernible GFP fluorescence. This shortcoming of GFP can, in most cases, be alleviated by using the more efficient S65T GFP derivative. The GFP/beta-gal reporter fusion protein facilitated monitoring several aspects of protein accumulation. In particular, the ability to visualize GFP fluorescence enhances recognition of global static and dynamic patterns in live animals, whereas beta-galactosidase histochemistry affords sensitive high resolution protein localization. We present a catalog of Ga 14-expressing strains that will be useful for investigating several aspects of Drosophila melanogaster cell and developmental biology.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism
  • Enhancer Elements, Genetic
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Genes, Reporter*
  • Genes, Synthetic
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Larva
  • Luminescent Proteins / analysis
  • Luminescent Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Luminescent Proteins / genetics*
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Organ Specificity
  • Pupa
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / analysis
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • beta-Galactosidase / analysis
  • beta-Galactosidase / biosynthesis
  • beta-Galactosidase / genetics*


  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • beta-Galactosidase