May 27, 2009

Library of the fruit fly genome created

U.S. scientists say they've created a library of clones covering most of the genome of Drosophila melanogaster, a genus of fruit fly, to aid genetic studies.

Led by the Baylor College of Medicine, the researchers said they used techniques developed by Koen Venken, a scientist in Professor Hugh Bellen's laboratory. The techniques are nicknamed Pacman, but officially are known as the P/phiC31 artificial chromosome for manipulation.

Pacman allows scientists to work with DNA in living flies. The techniques allow scientists to maintain, manipulate, and insert the manipulated DNA into specific sites of the fruit fly's genome. Scientists can then study the effects of the new DNA on the functioning of the fruit fly.

Venken said he used Pacman to create libraries of fruit fly DNA, so that researchers can choose a specific gene and then find the flies in the library that have that gene.

You can insert a single copy of a gene and rescue a mutation, or do a structure/function analysis of the gene, Bellen said. If you don't know where the gene is expressed, you can tag it, put it back and locate where it is expressed.

The library is available at

The research is reported in the online edition of the journal Nature Methods.