Extended longevity lines of Drosophila melanogaster: Abundance of yolk protein gene mRNA in fat body and ovary

Kimberly A. Carlson, Lawrence G. Harshman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Lines of Drosophila melanogaster selected for late-life female reproduction typically exhibit correlated responses of reduced early fecundity and increased longevity. This relationship suggests a tradeoff between reproductive effort and somatic maintenance, which in turn, underlies some evolutionary theories of senescence. The mechanistic basis of the apparent tradeoff between increased longevity and reduced early-age fecundity has remained obscure. The present manuscript addresses the issues of whether the reduced early-age fecundity in selected lines corresponds to reduced yolk-protein mRNA production, and whether long-lived flies exhibit somatic maintenance in terms of relatively reduced yolk-protein mRNA production in the fat body. Yolk protein is one of the most abundant proteins used for female reproduction. By comparing a set of lines selected for late life reproduction with the corresponding control lines, we show that yolk-protein gene mRNA relative abundance during the first four days posteclosion did not correspond to reduced early-life fecundity in the selected lines. In D. melanogaster, yolk protein is produced in the fat body and ovarian follicle cells. On the fourth day posteclosion, relatively more yolk-protein gene mRNA was present in the fat body. On day I posteclosion, supplemental yeast did not alter relative yolk-protein gene mRNA abundance. However, on day 4 posteclosion, supplemental yeast stimulated yolk-protein gene mRNA production in the fat body, which suggests an underlying mechanism for the nutrition- based phenotypic plasticity of fecundity previously documented in these lines. On medium without supplemental yeast, the relatively low abundance of fat body yolk-protein gene mRNA in the selected lines on day 4 posteclosion corresponds to a prediction derived from the disposable soma theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-184
Number of pages12
JournalExperimental Gerontology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1999


  • Antagonistic pleiotropy
  • Disposable soma
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Selected lines
  • Yolk protein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Aging
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Endocrinology
  • Cell Biology


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