Long persistence of importin-β explains extended survival of cells and zygotes that lack the encoding gene

Zoltán Villányi, Alain Debec, Gyula Timinszky, László Tirián, János Szabad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)


Importin-β is an essential component of nuclear protein import, spindle formation and nuclear envelope assembly. Formerly, the function of the Drosophila Ketel gene, which encodes importin-β and is essential for the survival to adulthood, seemed to be required only in the mitotically active cells. We report here that importin-β function is required in every cell and that this protein possesses an exceptionally long life span. Mosaic analysis, using gynanders, indicated that zygotic function of the Ketel gene is essential in a large group of cells in the embryos. Expression of a UAS-Ketel transgene by different tissue specific Gal4 drivers on ketelnull/- hemizygous background revealed the requirement of Ketel gene function in the ectoderm. Elimination of the Ketel gene function using a UAS-Ketel-RNAi transgene driven by different Gal4 drivers confirmed the indispensability of the Ketel gene in the ectoderm. Using GFP-tagged importin-β (encoded by a ketelGFP allele) we revealed that the maternally provided GFP-importin-β molecules persist up to larval life. The zygotic Ketel gene is expressed in every cell during early gastrulation. Although the gene is then turned off in the non-dividing cells, the produced importin-β molecules persist long and carry out nuclear protein import throughout the subsequent stages of development. In the continuously dividing diploid cells, the Ketel gene is constitutively expressed to fulfill all three functions of importin-β.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-206
Number of pages11
JournalMechanisms of Development
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2008


  • Drosophila
  • GFP-importin-β
  • Gal4/UAS
  • Gene expression focus
  • Gynander
  • Importin-β
  • Maternal effect
  • Nuclear protein import
  • Protein life span
  • RNAi

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Embryology
  • Developmental Biology

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