To save content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about saving content to .
To save content items to your Kindle, first ensure firstname.lastname@example.org
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
Epistasis is an important feature of the genetic architecture of quantitative traits, but the dynamics of epistatic interactions in natural populations and the relationship between epistasis and pleiotropy remain poorly understood. Here, we studied the effects of epistatic modifiers that segregate in a wild-derived Drosophila melanogaster population on the mutational effects of P-element insertions in Semaphorin-5C (Sema-5c) and Calreticulin (Crc), pleiotropic genes that affect olfactory behaviour and startle behaviour and, in the case of Crc, sleep phenotypes. We introduced Canton-S B (CSB) third chromosomes with or without a P-element insertion at the Crc or Sema-5c locus in multiple wild-derived inbred lines of the Drosophila melanogaster Genetic Reference Panel (DGRP) and assessed the effects of epistasis on the olfactory response to benzaldehyde and, for Crc, also on sleep. In each case, we found substantial epistasis and significant variation in the magnitude of epistasis. The predominant direction of epistatic effects was to suppress the mutant phenotype. These observations support a previous study on startle behaviour using the same D. melanogaster chromosome substitution lines, which concluded that suppressing epistasis may buffer the effects of new mutations. However, epistatic effects are not correlated among the different phenotypes. Thus, suppressing epistasis appears to be a pervasive general feature of natural populations to protect against the effects of new mutations, but different epistatic interactions modulate different phenotypes affected by mutations at the same pleiotropic gene.
The expression of behaviours is influenced by many segregating genes. Behaviours are, therefore, complex traits. They have, however, unique characteristics that set them apart from physiological and morphological quantitative traits. First, behaviours are the ultimate expression of the nervous system. This means that understanding the genetic underpinnings of behaviours requires a neurobiological context, i.e. an understanding of the genes–brain–behaviour axis. In other words, how do ensembles of genes empower specific neural circuits to drive behaviours? Second, behaviours represent the interface between an organism and its environment. Thus, environmental effects are likely to make substantial contributions to determining behavioural outputs and genotype-by-environment interactions are expected to be prominent. It is important to differentiate between genes that contribute to the manifestation of the behavioural phenotype and genes that contribute to phenotypic variation in behaviour. The former are identified by classical mutagenesis experiments, whereas the latter can be detected through quantitative genetic approaches. Genes that contribute to phenotypic variation in behaviour harbour polymorphisms that provide the substrates for evolution. This review focuses on olfactory behaviour in Drosophila with the goal to illustrate how fundamental insights derived from studies on chemosensation can be applied to a wide range of behavioural phenotypes.
Epistasis is an important feature of the genetic architecture of quantitative traits. Previously, we showed that startle-induced locomotor behaviour of Drosophila melanogaster, a critical survival trait, is highly polygenic and exhibits epistasis. Here, we characterize epistatic interactions among homozygous P-element mutations affecting startle-induced locomotion in the Canton-S isogenic background and in 21 wild-derived inbred genetic backgrounds. We find pervasive epistasis for pairwise combinations of homozygous P-element insertional mutations as well as for mutations in wild-derived backgrounds. In all cases, the direction of the epistatic effects is to suppress the mutant phenotypes. The magnitude of the epistatic interactions in wild-derived backgrounds is highly correlated with the magnitude of the main effects of mutations, leading to phenotypic robustness of the startle response in the face of deleterious mutations. There is variation in the magnitude of epistasis among the wild-derived genetic backgrounds, indicating evolutionary potential for enhancing or suppressing effects of single mutations. These results provide a partial glimpse of the complex genetic network underlying the genetic architecture of startle behaviour and provide empirical support for the hypothesis that suppressing epistasis is the mechanism underlying genetic canalization of traits under strong stabilizing selection. Widespread suppressing epistasis will lead to underestimates of the main effects of quantitative trait loci (QTLs) in mapping experiments when not explicitly accounted for. In addition, suppressing epistasis could lead to underestimates of mutational variation for quantitative traits and overestimates of the strength of stabilizing selection, which has implications for maintenance of variation of complex traits by mutation–selection balance.
Olfactomedin-related proteins are secreted glycoproteins with conserved C-terminal motifs.
Olfactomedin was originally identified as the major component of the mucus layer that surrounds
the chemosensory dendrites of olfactory neurons. Homologues were subsequently found also in
other tissues, including the brain and in species ranging from Caenorhabditis elegans to Homo
sapiens. Most importantly, the TIGR/myocilin protein, expressed in the eye and associated with
the pathogenesis of glaucoma, is an olfactomedin-related protein. The prevalence of olfactomedin-related proteins among species and their identification in different tissues prompted us to
investigate whether a gene family exists within a species, specifically Homo sapiens. A GenBank
search indeed revealed an entire human gene family of olfactomedin-related proteins with at least
five members, designated hOlfA through hOlfD and the TIGR/myocilin protein. hOlfA
corresponds to the rat neuronal AMZ protein. Phylogenetic analyses of 18 olfactomedin-related
sequences resolved four distinct subfamilies. Among the human proteins, hOlfA and hOlfC, both
expressed in brain, are most closely related. Northern blot analyses of 16 human tissues
demonstrated highly specific expression patterns: hOlfA is expressed in brain, hOlfB in pancreas
and prostate, hOlfC in cerebellum, hOlfD in colon, small intestine and prostate and
TIGR/myocilin in heart and skeletal muscle. The link between TIGR/myocilin and ocular
hypertension and the expression of several of these proteins in mucus-lined tissues suggest that
they play an important role in regulating physical properties of the extracellular environment.
Future studies can now assess whether other members of this gene family, like TIGR/myocilin, are
also associated with human disease processes.
Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this to your organisation's collection.