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Using mutants, knockdowns, and transgenesis to investigate gene function in Drosophila

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Abstract

The sophisticated genetic techniques available in Drosophila are largely responsible for its success as a model organism. One of the most important of these is the ability to disrupt gene function in vivo and observe the resulting phenotypes. This review considers the ever-increasing repertoire of approaches for perturbing the functions of specific genes in flies, ranging from classical and transposon-mediated mutageneses to newer techniques, such as homologous recombination and RNA interference. Since most genes are used over and over again in different contexts during development, many important advances have depended on being able to interfere with gene function at specific times or places in the developing animal, and a variety of approaches are now available to do this. Most of these techniques rely on being able to create genetically modified strains of Drosophila and the different methods for generating lines carrying single copy transgenic constructs will be described, along with the advantages and disadvantages of each approach. WIREs Dev Biol 2013, 2:587–613. doi: 10.1002/wdev.101

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