A fly lamin gene is both like and unlike human genes

June 13, 2007

Mitch Dushay and colleagues at Uppsala University in Sweden announce the publication of their paper, "Characterization of lamin Mutation Phenotypes in Drosophila and Comparison to Human Laminopathies" in the June 13th issue of the online, open-access journal PLoS ONE.

Lamins are intermediate filament proteins that make up a matrix underlying the nuclear membrane. Mammals have two types of lamins; A-type lamins are expressed in differentiating cells, while B-type lamins are expressed ubiquitously.

Mutations in the gene coding for human lamin A cause a range of diseases collectively called laminopathies, including forms of muscular dystrophy and premature aging diseases. The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster has 2 lamin genes that are expressed in A- and B-type patterns, and it has been assumed that similarly expressed lamins perform similar functions.

Yet, Dushay and his colleagues, among others, have shown that the fly lamin genes are more closely related to each other than to mammalian lamin genes. While the independent evolution of similar expression patterns must have been driven by similar vital lamin gene functions, Dushay et el. found that mutations in the ubiquitously expressed Drosophila lamin gene cause larvae to move less and show subtle muscle defects, while surviving lamin adults walk poorly and can't fly – like aged wild type flies.

This suggests that lamin mutations might cause neuromuscular defects, premature aging, or both. The resemblance of Drosophila lamin phenotypes to human laminopathies provides an interesting case of gene expression and function diverging through evolution, and promises greater insight into lamin function, and possibly into laminopathic diseases and aging.

Source: Public Library of Science

Explore further: Editing scrambled genes in human stem cells may help realize the promise of stem cell-gene therapy

Related Stories

Turning down gene expression promotes nerve cell maintenance

February 2, 2009

Anyone with a sweet tooth knows that too much of a good thing can lead to negative consequences. The same can be said about the signals that help maintain nerve cells, as demonstrated in a new study of myelin, a protein ...

Surprise role of nuclear structure protein in development

November 24, 2011

Scientists have long held theories about the importance of proteins called B-type lamins in the process of embryonic stem cells replicating and differentiating into different varieties of cells. New research from a team led ...

Stem cell clues uncovered

July 12, 2013

Proper tissue function and regeneration is supported by stem cells, which reside in so-called niches. New work from Carnegie's Yixian Zheng and Haiyang Chen identifies an important component for regulating stem cell niches, ...

Lamin B locks up Oct-1

January 12, 2009

A large fraction of the transcription factor Oct-1 is associated with the inner nuclear envelope, but how and why it is retained there was unknown.

Recommended for you

CERN collides heavy nuclei at new record high energy

November 25, 2015

The world's most powerful accelerator, the 27 km long Large Hadron Collider (LHC) operating at CERN in Geneva established collisions between lead nuclei, this morning, at the highest energies ever. The LHC has been colliding ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.