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The Use of Yolk Protein Variations inDrosophilaSpecies to Analyse the Control of Vitellogenesis

Publication Date
DOI: 10.1111/j.1432-0436.1980.tb01065.x
  • Biology
  • Medicine


The yolk proteins of many insects, including Drosophila, are synthesised in the fat body of adult females and are transported through the haemolymph to be accumulated in the oocytes. We have used differences in the size and number of yolk polypeptides in different species of Drosophila to investigate the role of the ovary and of juvenile hormone in vitellogenesis. The yolk proteins of eight species of Drosophila were compared with those of Drosophila melanogaster. Only Drosophila simulans had three yolk polypeptides of similar molecular weight to the three polypeptides in D. melanogaster and gave a high degree of cross reactivity with antibody raised against the yolk proteins of D. melanogaster. All other species had one to three bands on a sodium dodecyl sulphate gel representing the yolk polypeptides; they are between 44,000 and 49,500 daltons in molecular weight, showing weak cross reactivity with anti- D. melanogaster yolk antibody. Interspecies ovary transplants established that males of D. arizonensis and D.pseudoobscura which supported vitellogenesis of D. melanogaster ovaries, did so by permitting the implanted ovaries to synthesise their own yolk proteins. The synthetic juvenile hormone, ZR515, was unable to induce ovaries, which failed to develop in other species of males, to undergo vitellogenesis. In females, however, ZR515 was able to induce uptake of the yolk proteins of some of the species into the D. melanogaster donor ovaries, which had failed to develop in the absence of hormone. These interspecies differences in the yolk proteins have therefore been used to investigate the control of vitellogenesis and the role of juvenile hormone in this process in Drosophila.

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