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EMBL Team Applies SAGE to Monitor Drosophila Genes

NEW YORK, Oct. 30 — Researchers at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany, have used Serial Analysis of Gene Expression to observe the simultaneous activity of hundreds of genes in the fruit fly, recent research has shown. 

The technique has previously been used to study activity in human and mouse cells. Applying it to  Drosophila Melanogaster —perhaps the best-known and most useful experimental animal for genetic research—should provide a wealth of information connecting gene activation to biological processes, the researchers said.

Their work is described in an article in the October issue of the journal Developmental Cell .

The short lifecycle of the fly also allows investigators a unique opportunity to watch genes during development.

The study reports that hundreds of fly genes respond to the JNK signal, which is involved in tissue formation. Some of these genes had never before been connected to this signal. Human and mammalian cells have analogous signaling processes that may be invoked in wound repair, for example. 

SAGE works by converting mRNA tags into long concatenated DNA molecules, which can be sequenced to create a readable signal of the simultaneous activity of multiple genes, giving a clearer portrait of the behavior of a cell or tissue.

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