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Keywords:

  • Cold tolerance;
  • gene transcription;
  • Frost;
  • ontogeny

Abstract

Frost (Fst) is a gene associated with cold exposure in Drosophila melanogaster. We used real-time PCR to assess whether cold exposure induces expression of Fst in 10 different life stages of D. melanogaster, and adults of seven other Drosophila species. We exposed groups of individuals to 0 °C (2 h), followed by 1 h recovery (22 °C). Frost was significantly upregulated in response to cold in eggs, third instar larvae, and 2- and 5-day-old male and female adults in D. melanogaster. Life stages in which cold did not upregulate Fst had high constitutive expression. Frost is located on the opposite strand of an intron of Diuretic hormone (DH), but cold exposure did not upregulate DH. Frost orthologues were identified in six other species within the Melanogaster group (Drosophila sechellia, Drosophila simulans, Drosophila yakuba, Drosophila erecta, Drosophila ananassae and Drosophila mauritiana). Frost orthologues were upregulated in response to cold exposure in both sexes in adults of all of these species. The predicted structure of a putative Frost consensus protein shows highly conserved tandem repeats of motifs involved in cell signalling (PEST and TRAF2), suggesting that Fst might encode an adaptor protein involved in acute stress or apoptosis signalling in vivo.