Genetic and Molecular Studies of a Potassium Channel Gene in Drosophila
Molecular studies of functionally important elements in the nervous system have advanced rapidly in certain areas (e.g., studies of acetylcholine receptors and Na+ channels), because there are specific high-affinity toxins and antibodies as well as organisms with specialized tissues that contain a large number of these molecules. Unfortunately, this is not true for most molecules that are important for neural function or development, and purification and biochemical studies of these molecules have been very difficult. Various alternative approaches have been proposed. For instance, “transport specificity fractionation” has been used successfully in the purification of an ATP-dependent calcium transport protein (Papazian et al., 1979). One general approach to studying molecules that is important for neuronal function or neural development is to make use of genetics and molecular biology that has been well developed in certain organisms like Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila. If one can identify genes that are important for the function or development of the nervous system, one should be able to isolate them by molecular cloning and then begin to study these genes and their gene products in molecular terms. In this chapter, we will use the current studies of a gene in Drosophila for a voltage-sensitive K+ channel as an example to illustrate this general approach.
KeywordsChannel Gene Channel Inactivation Chromosome Walking Hybrid Dysgenesis Salivary Chromosome
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