Imprinted control of gene activity in Drosophila

Curr Biol. 1998 Nov 19;8(23):1273-6. doi: 10.1016/s0960-9822(07)00537-4.


Genetic imprinting is defined as a reversible, differential marking of genes or chromosomes that is determined by the sex of the parent from whom the genetic material is inherited [1]. Imprinting was first observed in insects where, in some species, most notably among the coccoids (scale insects and allies), the differential marking of paternally and maternally transmitted chromosome sets leads to inactivation or elimination of paternal chromosomes [2]. Imprinting is also widespread in plants and mammals [3,4], in which paternally and maternally inherited alleles may be differentially expressed. Despite imprinting having been discovered in insects, clear examples of parental imprinting are scarce in the model insect species Drosophila melanogaster. We describe a case of imprint-mediated control of gene expression in Drosophila. The imprinted gene - the white+ eye-color gene - is expressed at a low level when transmitted by males, and at a high level when transmitted by females. Thus, in common with coccoids, Drosophila is capable of generating an imprint, and can respond to that imprint by silencing the paternal allele.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • Drosophila
  • Eye Color / genetics
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Genes, Insect
  • Genomic Imprinting*
  • Male