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Glycerol hypersensitivity in a Drosophila model for glycerol kinase deficiency is affected by mutations in eye pigmentation genes.

Wightman P.J., Jackson G.R., Dipple K.M.

Glycerol kinase plays a critical role in metabolism by converting glycerol to glycerol 3-phosphate in an ATP dependent reaction. In humans, glycerol kinase deficiency results in a wide range of phenotypic variability; patients can have severe metabolic and CNS abnormalities, while others possess hyperglycerolemia and glyceroluria with no other apparent phenotype. In an effort to help understand the pathogenic mechanisms underlying the phenotypic variation, we have created a Drosophila model for glycerol kinase deficiency by RNAi targeting of dGyk (CG18374) and dGK (CG7995). As expected, RNAi flies have reduced glycerol kinase RNA expression, reduced phosphorylation activity and elevated glycerol levels. Further investigation revealed these flies to be hypersensitive to fly food supplemented with glycerol. Due to the hygroscopic nature of glycerol, we predict glycerol hypersensitivity is a result of greater susceptibility to desiccation, suggesting glycerol kinase to play an important role in desiccation resistance in insects. To evaluate a role for genetic modifier loci in determining severity of the glycerol hypersensitivity observed in knockdown flies, we performed a preliminary screen of lethal transposon insertion mutant flies using a glycerol hypersensitive survivorship assay. We demonstrate that this type of screen can identify both enhancer and suppressor genetic loci of glycerol hypersensitivity. Furthermore, we found that the glycerol hypersensitivity phenotype can be enhanced or suppressed by null mutations in eye pigmentation genes. Taken together, our data suggest proteins encoded by eye pigmentation genes play an important role in desiccation resistance and that eye pigmentation genes are strong modifiers of the glycerol hypersensitive phenotype identified in our Drosophila model for glycerol kinase deficiency.

PLoS ONE 7:e31779-e31779(2012) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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