The Drosophila genome contains >13000 protein-coding genes, the majority of which remain poorly investigated. Important reasons include the lack of antibodies or reporter constructs to visualise these proteins. Here, we present a genome-wide fosmid library of 10000 GFP-tagged clones, comprising tagged genes and most of their regulatory information. For 880 tagged proteins, we created transgenic lines, and for a total of 207 lines, we assessed protein expression and localisation in ovaries, embryos, pupae or adults by stainings and live imaging approaches. Importantly, we visualised many proteins at endogenous expression levels and found a large fraction of them localising to subcellular compartments. By applying genetic complementation tests, we estimate that about two-thirds of the tagged proteins are functional. Moreover, these tagged proteins enable interaction proteomics from developing pupae and adult flies. Taken together, this resource will boost systematic analysis of protein expression and localisation in various cellular and developmental contexts.
The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster is a popular model organism in biological research. Studies using Drosophila have led to important insights into human biology, because related proteins often fulfil similar roles in flies and humans. Thus, studying the role of a protein in Drosophila can teach us about what it might do in a human.
To fulfil their biological roles, proteins often occupy particular locations inside cells, such as the cell’s nucleus or surface membrane. Many proteins are also only found in specific types of cell, such as neurons or muscle cells. A protein’s location thus provides clues about what it does, however cells contain many thousands of proteins and identifying the location of each one is a herculean task.
Sarov et al. took on this challenge and developed a new resource to study the localisation of all Drosophila proteins during this animal’s development. First, genetic engineering was used to tag thousands of Drosophila proteins with a green fluorescent protein, so that they could be tracked under a microscope.
Sarov et al. tagged about 10000 Drosophila proteins in bacteria, and then introduced almost 900 of them into flies to create genetically modified flies. Each fly line contains an extra copy of the tagged gene that codes for one tagged protein. About two-thirds of these tagged proteins appeared to work normally after they were introduced into flies. Sarov et al. then looked at over 200 of these fly lines in more detail and observed that many of the proteins were found in particular cell types and localized to specific parts of the cells. Video imaging of the tagged proteins in living fruit fly embryos and pupae revealed the proteins’ movements, while other techniques showed which proteins bind to the tagged proteins, and may therefore work together in protein complexes.
This resource is openly available to the community, and so researchers can use it to study their favourite protein and gain new insights into how proteins work and are regulated during Drosophila development. Following on from this work, the next challenge will be to create more flies carrying tagged proteins, and to swap the green fluorescent tag with other experimentally useful tags.