Functional characterization of calliphorid cell death genes and cellularization gene promoters for controlling gene expression and cell viability in early embryos
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The New World screwworm fly, Cochliomyia hominivorax, and the Australian sheep blow fly, Lucilia cuprina, are major pests of livestock. The sterile insect technique was used to eradicate C. hominivorax from North and Central America. This involved area-wide releases of male and female flies that had been sterilized by radiation. Genetic systems have been developed for making 'male-only' strains that would improve the efficiency of genetic control of insect pests. One system involves induction of female lethality in embryos through activation of a pro-apoptotic gene by the tetracycline-dependent transactivator. Sex-specific expression is achieved using an intron from the transformer gene, which we previously isolated from several calliphorids. In the present study, we report the isolation of the promoters from the C. hominivorax slam and Lucilia sericata bnk cellularization genes and show that these promoters can drive expression of a GFP reporter gene in early embryos of transgenic L. cuprina. Additionally, we report the isolation of the L. sericata pro-apoptotic hid and rpr genes, identify conserved motifs in the encoded proteins and determine the relative expression of these genes at different stages of development. We show that widespread expression of the L. sericata pro-apoptotic genes was lethal in Drosophila melanogaster. The isolated gene promoters and pro-apoptotic genes could potentially be used to build transgenic embryonic sexing strains of calliphorid livestock pests.
author list (cited authors)
Edman, R. M., Linger, R. J., Belikoff, E. J., Li, F., Sze, S., Tarone, A. M., & Scott, M. J.