Vitellogenin family gene expression does not increase Drosophila lifespan or fecundity

Yingxue Ren, Kimberly A. Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


One of the most striking patterns in comparative biology is the negative correlation between lifespan and fecundity observed in comparisons among species. This pattern is consistent with the idea that organisms need to allocate a fixed energy budget among competing demands of growth, development, reproduction and somatic maintenance. However, exceptions to this pattern have been observed in many social insects, including ants, bees, and termites. In honey bees (Apis mellifera), Vitellogenin (Vg), a yolk protein precursor, has been implicated in mediating the long lifespan and high fecundity of queen bees. To determine if Vg-like proteins can regulate lifespan in insects generally, we examined the effects of expression of Apis Vg and Drosophila CG31150 (a Vg-like gene recently identified as cv-d) on Drosophila melanogaster lifespan and fecundity using the RU486-inducible GeneSwitch system. For all genotypes tested, overexpression of Vg and CG31150 decreased Drosophila lifespan and did not affect total or age-specific fecundity. We also detected an apparent effect of the GeneSwitch system itself, wherein RU486 exposure (or the GAL4 expression it induces) led to a significant increase in longevity and decrease in fecundity in our fly strains. This result is consistent with the pattern reported in a recent meta-analysis of Drosophila aging studies, where transgenic constructs of the UAS/GAL4 expression system that should have no effect (e.g. an uninduced GeneSwitch) significantly extended lifespan in some genetic backgrounds. Our results suggest that Vg-family genes are not major regulators of Drosophila life history traits, and highlight the importance of using appropriate controls in aging studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3975.1
StatePublished - Jun 10 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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