Evolutionary history and mechanism of the Drosophila cecropin gene family

Immunogenetics. 1998 May;47(6):417-29. doi: 10.1007/s002510050379.


Upon bacterial infection, insects secrete a set of synthesized antibacterial proteins into the hemolymph and initiate synergistic destruction of invaders. Cecropin is one such antibacterial protein which is also found in vertebrates. To study the evolutionary history and mechanism of the Cecropin gene family, we determined DNA sequences of one isogenic In(3R)C and six isofemale lines of Drosophila melanogaster as well as one line of D. simulans and of D. yakuba. The phylogenetic analysis of these sequences together with those published for D. virilis and Sarcophaga peregrina reveals frequent gene re-organization. It was also found that silent nucleotide differences within D. melanogaster are quite heterogeneous across the gene region of approximately 3 kilobases and the extent of polymorphism is unusually usually high. These data suggest that the Cecropin gene region of D. melanogaster underwent intragenic recombination as well as introgression from a closely related sibling species, D. simulans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides*
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Female
  • Genes, Insect
  • Insect Proteins / classification
  • Insect Proteins / genetics*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multigene Family
  • Peptides / classification
  • Peptides / genetics*
  • Phylogeny
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides
  • Insect Proteins
  • Peptides
  • cecropin A
  • cecropin B protein, Insecta
  • DNA

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AB010790
  • GENBANK/AB010791
  • GENBANK/AB010792
  • GENBANK/AB010793
  • GENBANK/AB010794
  • GENBANK/AB010795
  • GENBANK/AB010796
  • GENBANK/AB010797
  • GENBANK/AB010798