The Drosophila clathrin heavy chain gene: Clathrin function is essential in a multicellular organism

C. Bazinet, A. L. Katzen, M. Morgan, A. P. Mahowald, S. K. Lemmon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


The clathrin heavy chain (HC) is the major structural polypeptide of the cytoplasmic surface lattice of clathrin-coated pits and vesicles. As a genetic approach to understanding the role of clathrin in cellular morphogenesis and developmental signal transduction, a clathrin heavy chain (Chc) gene of Drosophila melanogaster has been identified by a combination of molecular and classical genetic approaches. Using degenerate primers based on mammalian and yeast clathrin HC sequences, a small fragment of the HC gene was amplified from genomic Drosophila DNA by the polymerase chain reaction. Genomic and cDNA clones from phage libraries were isolated and analyzed using this fragment as a probe. The amino acid sequence of the Drosophila clathrin HC deduced from cDNA sequences is 80%, 57% and 49% identical, respectively, with the mammalian, Dictyostelium and yeast HCs. Hybridization in situ to larval polytene chromosomes revealed a single Chc locus at position 13F2 on the X chromosome. A 13-kb genomic Drosophila fragment including the Chc transcription unit was reintroduced into the Drosophila genome via P element- mediated germline transformation. This DNA complemented a group of EMS- induced lethal mutations mapping to the same region of the X chromosome, thus identifying the Chc complementation group. Mutant individuals homozygous or hemizygous for the Chc1, Chc2 or Chc3 alleles developed to a late stage of embryogenesis, but failed to hatch to the first larval stage. A fourth allele, Chc4, exhibited polyphasic lethality, with a significant number of homozygous and hemizygous offspring surviving to adulthood. Germline clonal analysis of Chc mutant alleles indicated that the three tight lethal alleles were autonomous cell-lethal mutations in the female germline. In contrast, Chc4 germline clones were viable at a rate comparable to wild type, giving rise to viable adult progeny. However, hemizygous Chc4 males were invariably sterile. The sterility was efficiently rescued by an autosomal copy of the wild-type Chc gene reintroduced on a P element. These findings suggest a specialized role for clathrin in spermatogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1119-1134
Number of pages16
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


Dive into the research topics of 'The Drosophila clathrin heavy chain gene: Clathrin function is essential in a multicellular organism'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this