Biochemistry, Department of


Date of this Version

December 2003


Published by MOLECULAR AND CELLULAR BIOLOGY, Dec. 2003, p. 8495–8504 Vol. 23, No. 23. Copyright © 2003, American Society for Microbiology. Permission to use.


Selenium is implicated in many diseases, including cancer, but its function at the molecular level is poorly understood. BthD is one of three selenoproteins recently identified in Drosophila. To elucidate the function of BthD and the role of selenoproteins in cellular metabolism and health, we analyzed the developmental expression profile of this protein and used inducible RNA interference (RNAi) to ablate function. We find that BthD is dynamically expressed during Drosophila development. bthD mRNA and protein are abundant in the ovaries of female flies and are deposited into the developing oocyte. Maternally contributed protein and RNA persist during early embryonic development but decay by the onset of gastrulation. At later stages of embryogenesis, BthD is expressed highly in the developing salivary gland. We generated transgenic fly lines carrying an inducible gene-silencing construct, in which an inverted bthD genomic-cDNA hybrid is under the control of the Drosophila Gal4 upstream activation sequence system. Duplex RNAi induced from this construct targeted BthD mRNA for destruction and reduced BthD protein levels. We found that loss of BthD compromised salivary gland morphogenesis and reduced animal viability.