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The Drosophila Couch Potato Gene: An Essential Gene Required for Normal Adult Behavior

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  • Investigations


Through enhancer detection screens we have isolated 14 insertions in an essential gene that is expressed in embryonic sensory mother cells (SMC), in most cells of the mature embryonic peripheral nervous system (PNS), and in glial cells of the PNS and the central nervous system (CNS). Embryos homozygote for amorphic alleles die, but show no obvious defects in their cuticle, PNS or CNS. The gene has been named couch potato (cpo) because several insertional alleles alter adult behavior. Homozygous hypomorphic cpo flies recover slowly from ether anaesthesia, show aberrant flight behavior, fail to move toward light and do not exhibit normal negative geotactic behavior. However, the flies are able to groom and walk, and some are able to fly when prodded, indicating that not all processes required for behavior are severely affected. A molecular analysis shows that the 14 insertions are confined to a few hundred nucleotides which probably contain key regulatory sequences of the gene. The orientation of these insertions and their position within this DNA fragment play an important role in the couch potato phenotype. In situ hybridization to whole mount embryos suggest that some insertions affect the levels of transcription of cpo in most cells in which it is expressed.

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