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Neural Specificity of elav Expression: Defining a Drosophila Promoter for Directing Expression to the Nervous System

Authors

  • Kwok-Ming Yao,

    1. Department of Biology and Center for Complex Systems, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
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    • The present address of Dr. K.-M. Yao is Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Mayer 813, 44 Binney St., Boston, MA 02119, U.S.A.

  • Kalpana White

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biology and Center for Complex Systems, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
      Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. K. White at Department of Biology, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA 02254-9110, U.S.A.
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Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. K. White at Department of Biology, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA 02254-9110, U.S.A.

Abstract

Abstract: The Drosophila melanogaster vital gene, embryonic lethal abnormal visual system (elav), is required for the postdeterminative development of the nervous system. Its gene product encodes an RNA binding protein that was found to be expressed in all neurons right after their birth. This specific, ubiquitous, and continuous pattern of neural expression has led to the increasingly popular use of ELAV protein as a neural-specific marker. To understand the molecular basis of this neural-specific expression, we have defined and analyzed the structure of the elav promoter. Cis-acting sequences important for conferring the neural specificity of elav expression were identified by analyzing the reporter gene expression in transformants carrying different elav-β-galactosidase fusion, genes. This analysis delimits a 333-bp region (−92 to +241) that is necessary for specifying the elav pattern of nervous system expression. A 3.5-kb promoter fragment encompassing this region was designed for targeting gene expression specifically to the nervous system and would be a useful tool for the analysis of nervous system function.

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