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Padgett, RW, Hutchison CA, Edgell MH.  1988.  The F-type 5' motif of mouse L1 elements: a major class of L1 termini similar to the A-type in organization but unrelated in sequence. Nucleic Acids Res. 16:739-49. AbstractWebsite
It has previously been shown that the L1 family in the mouse (L1Md) contains two alternative 5' ends called the A- and F-type sequences (1,2). We show here that the F-type element is a major class of murine L1 elements and report on the details of organization of the 5' motif of these F-type elements. Although the A- and F-type 5' sequences share no detectable sequence homology the organization of an F-type 5' end is strikingly similar to that of an A-type. That is, the F-type 5' sequences consist of a tandem array of a small number of 206 bp monomers while the A-type 5' motif consists of a tandem array of 208 bp monomers. All of the A-type elements characterized to date have a truncated monomer at the 5' end of the array. Many of the F-type elements are also terminated at the 5' end by a truncated copy but unlike the A-type elements some F-type elements terminate with a monomer which is within a few nucleotides of being complete. In addition the F-type consensus sequence, in contrast to the A-type sequence, shows homology (70%) to the body of the L1Md starting at the position where the monomer joins the rest of the L1 element.
Johnston, SH, Rauskolb C, Wilson R, Prabhakaran B, Irvine KD, Vogt TF.  1997.  A family of mammalian Fringe genes implicated in boundary determination and the Notch pathway. Development. 124:2245-54. AbstractWebsite
The formation of boundaries between groups of cells is a universal feature of metazoan development. Drosophila fringe modulates the activation of the Notch signal transduction pathway at the dorsal-ventral boundary of the wing imaginal disc. Three mammalian fringe-related family members have been cloned and characterized: Manic, Radical and Lunatic Fringe. Expression studies in mouse embryos support a conserved role for mammalian Fringe family members in participation in the Notch signaling pathway leading to boundary determination during segmentation. In mammalian cells, Drosophila fringe and the mouse Fringe proteins are subject to posttranslational regulation at the levels of differential secretion and proteolytic processing. When misexpressed in the developing Drosophila wing imaginal disc the mouse Fringe genes exhibit conserved and differential effects on boundary determination.
Feng, Y, Irvine KD.  2007.  Fat and expanded act in parallel to regulate growth through warts. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 104:20362-7. AbstractWebsite
The conserved Drosophila tumor suppressors Fat and Expanded have both recently been implicated in regulating the activity of the Warts tumor suppressor. However, there has been disagreement as to the nature of the links among Fat, Expanded, and Warts and the significance of these links to growth control. We report here that mutations in either expanded or fat can be rescued to viability simply by overexpressing Warts, indicating that their essential function is their influence on Warts rather than reported effects on endocytosis or other pathways. These rescue experiments also separate the transcriptional from the planar cell polarity branches of Fat signaling and reveal that Expanded does not directly affect polarity. We also investigate the relationship between expanded and fat and show, contrary to prior reports, that they have additive effects on imaginal disk growth and development. Although mutation of fat can cause partial loss of Expanded protein from the membrane, mutation of fat promotes growth even when Expanded is overexpressed and accumulates at its normal subapical location. These observations argue against recent proposals that Fat acts simply as a receptor for the Hippo signaling pathway and instead support the proposal that Fat and Expanded can act in parallel to regulate Warts through distinct mechanisms.
Reddy, BVVG, Irvine KD.  2008.  The Fat and Warts signaling pathways: new insights into their regulation, mechanism and conservation. Development (Cambridge, England). 135:2827-38. AbstractWebsite
A cassette of cytoplasmic Drosophila tumor suppressors, including the kinases Hippo and Warts, has recently been linked to the transmembrane tumor suppressor Fat. These proteins act within interconnected signaling pathways, the principal functions of which are to control the growth and polarity of developing tissues. Recent studies have enhanced our understanding of the basis for signal transduction by Fat and Warts pathways, including the identification of a DNA-binding protein at the end of the pathway, have established the conservation of Fat and Warts signaling from flies to mammals, and have given us new insights into their regulation and biological functions.
Mao, Y, Francis-West P, Irvine KD.  2015.  A Fat4-Dchs1 signal between stromal and cap mesenchyme cells influences nephrogenesis and ureteric bud branching.. Development (Cambridge, England). AbstractWebsite
Formation of the kidney requires reciprocal signaling among the ureteric tubules, cap mesenchyme and surrounding stromal mesenchyme to orchestrate complex morphogenetic events. The protocadherin Fat4 influences signaling from stromal to cap mesenchyme cells to influence their differentiation into nephrons. Here we characterize the role of a putative binding partner of Fat4, the protocadherin Dchs1. Mutation of Dchs1 leads to increased numbers of cap mesenchyme cells, which are abnormally arranged around the ureteric bud tips, and impairs nephron morphogenesis. Mutation of Dchs1 also reduces branching of the ureteric bud and impairs differentiation of ureteric bud tip cells into trunk cells. Genetically, Dchs1 is required specifically within cap mesenschyme cells. The similarity of Dchs1 phenotypes to stromal-less kidneys and to Fat4 mutants implicate Dchs1 in Fat4-dependent stroma-to-cap mesenchyme signaling. Antibody staining of genetic mosaics reveals that Dchs1 protein localization is polarized within cap mesenchyme cells, where it accumulates at the interface with stromal cells, implying that it interacts directly with a stromal protein. Our observations identify a role for Fat4-Dchs1 in signaling between cell layers, implicate Dchs1 as a Fat4 receptor for stromal signaling that is essential for kidney development, and establish that vertebrate Dchs1 can be molecularly polarized in vivo.
Kuta, A, Mao Y, Martin T, Ferreira de Sousa C, Whiting D, Zakaria S, Crespo-Enriquez I, Evans P, Balczerski B, Mankoo B et al..  2016.  Fat4-Dchs1 signalling controls cell proliferation in developing vertebrae.. Development (Cambridge, England). 143(13):2367-75. Abstract
The protocadherins Fat4 and Dchs1 act as a receptor-ligand pair to regulate many developmental processes in mice and humans, including development of the vertebrae. Based on conservation of function between Drosophila and mammals, Fat4-Dchs1 signalling has been proposed to regulate planar cell polarity (PCP) and activity of the Hippo effectors Yap and Taz, which regulate cell proliferation, survival and differentiation. There is strong evidence for Fat regulation of PCP in mammals but the link with the Hippo pathway is unclear. In Fat4(-/-) and Dchs1(-/-) mice, many vertebrae are split along the midline and fused across the anterior-posterior axis, suggesting that these defects might arise due to altered cell polarity and/or changes in cell proliferation/differentiation. We show that the somite and sclerotome are specified appropriately, the transcriptional network that drives early chondrogenesis is intact, and that cell polarity within the sclerotome is unperturbed. We find that the key defect in Fat4 and Dchs1 mutant mice is decreased proliferation in the early sclerotome. This results in fewer chondrogenic cells within the developing vertebral body, which fail to condense appropriately along the midline. Analysis of Fat4;Yap and Fat4;Taz double mutants, and expression of their transcriptional target Ctgf, indicates that Fat4-Dchs1 regulates vertebral development independently of Yap and Taz. Thus, we have identified a new pathway crucial for the development of the vertebrae and our data indicate that novel mechanisms of Fat4-Dchs1 signalling have evolved to control cell proliferation within the developing vertebrae.
Marcello, MR, Singaravelu G, Singson A.  2013.  Fertilization. Adv. Exp. Med. Biol.. 757:321–350. Abstract
Fertilization-the fusion of gametes to produce a new organism-is the culmination of a multitude of intricately regulated cellular processes. In Caenorhabditis elegans, fertilization is highly efficient. Sperm become fertilization competent after undergoing a maturation process during which they become motile, and the plasma membrane protein composition is reorganized in preparation for interaction with the oocyte. The highly specialized gametes begin their interactions by signaling to one another to ensure that fertilization occurs when they meet. The oocyte releases prostaglandin signals to help guide the sperm to the site of fertilization, and sperm secrete a protein called major sperm protein (MSP) to trigger oocyte maturation and ovulation. Upon meeting one another in the spermatheca, the sperm and oocyte fuse in a specific and tightly regulated process. Recent studies are providing new insights into the molecular basis of this fusion process. After fertilization, the oocyte must quickly transition from the relative quiescence of oogenesis to a phase of rapid development during the cleavage divisions of early embryogenesis. In addition, the fertilized oocyte must prevent other sperm from fusing with it as well as produce an eggshell for protection during external development. This chapter will review the nature and regulation of the various cellular processes of fertilization, including the development of fertilization competence, gamete signaling, sperm-oocyte fusion, the oocyte to embryo transition, and production of an eggshell to protect the developing embryo.
Messing, J, Gronenborn B, Müller-Hill B, Hans Hopschneider P.  1977.  Filamentous coliphage M13 as a cloning vehicle: insertion of a HindII fragment of the lac regulatory region in M13 replicative form in vitro. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 74:3642-6. AbstractWebsite
A HindII restriction fragment comprising the Escherichia coli lac regulatory region and the genetic information for the alpha peptide of beta-galactosidase (beta-D-galactosidegalactohydrolase, EC. 3.2.1.23) has been inserted into 1 of the 10 Bsu I cleavage sites of M13 by blunt end ligation. A stable hybrid phage was isolated and identified by its ability to complement the lac alpha function. Further characterization of the hybrid phage includes retransformation studies, agarose gel electrophoresis, DNA-DNA hybridization, and heteroduplex mapping. The insertion point has been localized at 0.083 map unit on thewild-type circular map-i.e., within the intergenic region. The results prove that part of the intergenic region is nonessential and that the phage can be used as a cloning vehicle.
Zhang, Y, Bergmann DC, Dong J.  2016.  Fine-scale dissection of the subdomains of polarity protein BASL in stomatal asymmetric cell division.. J. Exp. Bot.. doi:10.1093/jxb/erw274
Heyduk, T, Ma Y, Tang H, Ebright RH.  1996.  Fluorescence anisotropy: rapid, quantitative assay for protein-DNA and protein-protein interaction.. Methods in enzymology. 274:492-503.
Mukhopadhyay, J, Mekler V, Kortkhonjia E, Kapanidis AN, Ebright YW, Ebright RH.  2003.  Fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) in analysis of transcription-complex structure and function.. Methods in enzymology. 371:144-59.
Qian, X, Kim M K, Kumaraswamy KG, Agarwal A, Lun DS, Dismukes CG.  2016.  Flux balance analysis of photoautotrophic metabolism: Uncovering new biological details of subsystems involved in cyanobacterial photosynthesis. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Bioenergetics. :-. AbstractWebsite
We have constructed and experimentally tested a comprehensive genome-scale model of photoautotrophic growth, denoted iSyp821, for the cyanobacterium Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002. iSyp821 incorporates a variable biomass objective function (vBOF), in which stoichiometries of the major biomass components vary according to light intensity. The vBOF was constrained to fit the measured cellular carbohydrate/protein content under different light intensities. iSyp821 provides rigorous agreement with experimentally measured cell growth rates and inorganic carbon uptake rates as a function of light intensity. iSyp821 predicts two observed metabolic transitions that occur as light intensity increases: 1) from PSI-cyclic to linear electron flow (greater redox energy), and 2) from carbon allocation as proteins (growth) to carbohydrates (energy storage) mode. iSyp821 predicts photoautotrophic carbon flux into 1) a hybrid gluconeogenesis-pentose phosphate (PP) pathway that produces glycogen by an alternative pathway than conventional gluconeogenesis, and 2) the photorespiration pathway to synthesize the essential amino acid, glycine. Quantitative fluxes through both pathways were verified experimentally by following the kinetics of formation of 13C metabolites from 13CO2 fixation. iSyp821 was modified to include changes in gene products (enzymes) from experimentally measured transcriptomic data and applied to estimate changes in concentrations of metabolites arising from nutrient stress. Using this strategy, we found that iSyp821 correctly predicts the observed redistribution pattern of carbon products under nitrogen depletion, including decreased rates of CO2 uptake, amino acid synthesis, and increased rates of glycogen and lipid synthesis.
Liu, T, Kim K, Li C, Barr MM.  2007.  FMRFamide-like Neuropeptides and Mechanosensory Touch Receptor Neurons Regulate male Sexual Turning Behavior in Caenorhabditis Elegans. J Neurosci. 27:7174-7182. Abstract
Caenorhabditis elegans male mating provides a powerful model to study the relationship between the nervous system, genes, and innate sexual behaviors. Male mating is the most complex behavior exhibited by the nematode C. elegans and involves the steps of response, backing, turning, vulva location, spicule insertion, and sperm transfer. Because neuropeptides are important neural regulators of many complex animal behaviors, we explored the function of the FMRFamide-like neuropeptide (flp) gene family in regulating male copulation. We found that peptidergic signaling mediated by FMRF-amide like neuropeptides (FLPs) FLP-8, FLP-10, FLP-12, and FLP-20 is required for the sensory transduction involved in male turning behavior. flp-8, flp-10, flp-12, and flp-20 mutant males significantly increase repetition of substep(s) of turning behavior compared with wild-type males. Genes controlling neuropeptide processing and secretion in general, including egl-3, egl-21, ida-1, and unc-31, are also required for inhibiting repetitive turning behavior. Neuropeptidergic signaling adjusts the repetitiveness of turning independently of serotonergic modulation of the timing of turning. Surprisingly, the mechanosensitive touch receptor neurons are found to be part of the neural circuitry regulating male turning behavior, indicating the existence of functional dimorphisms in the nervous system with regard to sex-specific behaviors.
Singaravelu, G, Rahimi S, Krauchunas A, Rizvi A, Dharia S, Shakes D, Smith H, Golden A, Singson A.  2015.  Forward Genetics Identifies a Requirement for the Izumo-like Immunoglobulin Superfamily spe-45 Gene in Caenorhabditis elegans Fertilization.. Current Biology. 25:3220-3224.
Ishikawa, HO, Takeuchi H, Haltiwanger RS, Irvine KD.  2008.  Four-jointed is a Golgi kinase that phosphorylates a subset of cadherin domains. Science. 321:401-4. AbstractWebsite
The atypical cadherin Fat acts as a receptor for a signaling pathway that regulates growth, gene expression, and planar cell polarity. Genetic studies in Drosophila identified the four-jointed gene as a regulator of Fat signaling. We show that four-jointed encodes a protein kinase that phosphorylates serine or threonine residues within extracellular cadherin domains of Fat and its transmembrane ligand, Dachsous. Four-jointed functions in the Golgi and is the first molecularly defined kinase that phosphorylates protein domains destined to be extracellular. An acidic sequence motif (Asp-Asn-Glu) within Four-jointed was essential for its kinase activity in vitro and for its biological activity in vivo. Our results indicate that Four-jointed regulates Fat signaling by phosphorylating cadherin domains of Fat and Dachsous as they transit through the Golgi.
Srivastava, A, Degen D, Ebright YW, Ebright RH.  2012.  Frequency, Spectrum, and Nonzero Fitness Costs of Resistance to Myxopyronin in Staphylococcus aureus.. Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy. 56(12):6250-5. Abstract
The antibiotic myxopyronin (Myx) functions by inhibiting bacterial RNA polymerase (RNAP). The binding site on RNAP for Myx-the RNAP "switch region SW1/SW2 subregion"-is different from the binding site on RNAP for the RNAP inhibitor currently used in broad-spectrum antibacterial therapy, rifampin (Rif). Here, we report the frequency, spectrum, and fitness costs of Myx resistance in Staphylococcus aureus. The resistance rate for Myx is 4 × 10(-8) to 7 × 10(-8) per generation, which is equal within error to the resistance rate for Rif (3 × 10(-8) to 10 × 10(-8) per generation). Substitutions conferring Myx resistance were obtained in the RNAP β subunit [six substitutions: V1080(1275)I, V1080(1275)L, E1084(1279)K, D1101(1296)E, S1127(1322)L, and S1127(1322)P] and the RNAP β' subunit [five substitutions: K334(345)N, T925(917)K, T925(917)R, G1172(1354)C, and G1172(1354)D] (residues numbered as in Staphylococcus aureus RNAP and, in parentheses, as in Escherichia coli RNAP). Sites of substitutions conferring Myx resistance map to the RNAP switch region SW1/SW2 subregion and do not overlap the binding site on RNAP for Rif, and, correspondingly, Myx-resistant mutants exhibit no cross-resistance to Rif. All substitutions conferring Myx resistance exhibit significant fitness costs (4 to 15% per generation). In contrast, at least three substitutions conferring Rif resistance exhibit no fitness costs (≤0% per generation). The observation that all Myx-resistant mutants have significant fitness costs whereas at least three Rif-resistant mutants have no fitness costs, together with the previously established inverse correlation between fitness cost and clinical prevalence, suggests that Myx resistance is likely to have lower clinical prevalence than Rif resistance.
Rongo, C.  2002.  A fresh look at the role of CaMKII in hippocampal synaptic plasticity and memory. Bioessays. 24:223-33. AbstractWebsite
Advances in molecular, genetic, and cell biological techniques have allowed neuroscientists to delve into the cellular machinery of learning and memory. The calcium and calmodulin-dependent kinase type II (CaMKII) is one of the best candidates for being a molecular component of the learning and memory machinery in the mammalian brain. It is present in abundance at synapses and its enzymatic properties and responsiveness to intracellular Ca(2+) fit a model whereby Ca(2+) currents activate the kinase and lead to changes in synaptic efficacy. Indeed, such plastic properties of synapses are thought to be important for memory formation. Genetic analysis of the alpha isoform of CaMKII in mice support the hypothesis that CaMKII signaling is required to initiate the formation of new spatial memories in the hippocampus. CaMKII is also required for the correct induction of long-term potentiation (LTP) in the hippocampus, consistent with the widely held belief that LTP is a mechanism for learning and memory. Recent cell biological, genetic, and physiological analyses suggest that one of the cellular explanations for LTP and CaMKII function might be the trafficking of AMPA-type receptors to synapses in response to neural activity.
Grammont, M, Irvine KD.  2001.  fringe and Notch specify polar cell fate during Drosophila oogenesis. Development (Cambridge, England). 128:2243-53. AbstractWebsite
fringe encodes a glycosyltransferase that modulates the ability of the Notch receptor to be activated by its ligands. We describe studies of fringe function during early stages of Drosophila oogenesis. Animals mutant for hypomorphic alleles of fringe contain follicles with an incorrect number of germline cells, which are separated by abnormally long and disorganized stalks. Analysis of clones of somatic cells mutant for a null allele of fringe localizes the requirement for fringe in follicle formation to the polar cells, and demonstrates that fringe is required for polar cell fate. Clones of cells mutant for Notch also lack polar cells and the requirement for Notch in follicle formation appears to map to the polar cells. Ectopic expression of fringe or of an activated form of Notch can generate an extra polar cell. Our results indicate that fringe plays a key role in positioning Notch activation during early oogenesis, and establish a function for the polar cells in separating germline cysts into individual follicles.
Moloney, DJ, Panin VM, Johnston SH, Chen J, Shao L, Wilson R, Wang Y, Stanley P, Irvine KD, Haltiwanger RS et al..  2000.  Fringe is a glycosyltransferase that modifies Notch. Nature. 406:369-75. AbstractWebsite
Notch receptors function in highly conserved intercellular signalling pathways that direct cell-fate decisions, proliferation and apoptosis in metazoans. Fringe proteins can positively and negatively modulate the ability of Notch ligands to activate the Notch receptor. Here we establish the biochemical mechanism of Fringe action. Drosophila and mammalian Fringe proteins possess a fucose-specific beta1,3 N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase activity that initiates elongation of O-linked fucose residues attached to epidermal growth factor-like sequence repeats of Notch. We obtained biological evidence that Fringe-dependent elongation of O-linked fucose on Notch modulates Notch signalling by using co-culture assays in mammalian cells and by expression of an enzymatically inactive Fringe mutant in Drosophila. The post-translational modification of Notch by Fringe represents a striking example of modulation of a signalling event by differential receptor glycosylation and identifies a mechanism that is likely to be relevant to other signalling pathways.
Panin, VM, Papayannopoulos V, Wilson R, Irvine KD.  1997.  Fringe modulates Notch-ligand interactions. Nature. 387:908-12. AbstractWebsite
The Notch family of transmembrane receptor proteins mediate developmental cell-fate decisions, and mutations in mammalian Notch genes have been implicated in leukaemia, breast cancer, stroke and dementia. During wing development in Drosophila, the Notch receptor is activated along the border between dorsal and ventral cells, leading to the specification of specialized cells that express Wingless (Wg) and organize wing growth and patterning. Three genes, fringe (fng), Serrate (Ser) and Delta (Dl), are involved in the cellular interactions leading to Notch activation. Ser and Dl encode transmembrane ligands for Notch, whereas fng encodes a pioneer protein. We have investigated the relationship between these genes by a combination of expression and coexpression studies in the Drosophila wing. We found that Ser and Dl maintain each other's expression by a positive feedback loop. fng is expressed specifically by dorsal cells and functions to position and restrict this feedback loop to the developing dorsal-ventral boundary. This is achieved by fng through a cell-autonomous mechanism that inhibits a cell's ability to respond to Serrate protein and potentiates its ability to respond to Delta protein.
Irvine, KD, Wieschaus E.  1994.  fringe, a Boundary-specific signaling molecule, mediates interactions between dorsal and ventral cells during Drosophila wing development. Cell. 79:595-606. AbstractWebsite
Wing formation in Drosophila requires interactions between dorsal and ventral cells. We describe a new gene, fringe, which is expressed in dorsal cells and encodes for a novel protein that is predicted to be secreted. Wing margin formation and distal wing outgrowth can be induced by the juxtaposition of cells with and without fringe expression, whether at the normal wing margin, at the boundaries of fringe mutant clones in the dorsal wing, or at sites of fringe misexpression in the ventral wing. By contrast, both loss of fringe expression and uniform fringe expression cause wing loss. These observations suggest that fringe encodes a boundary-specific cell-signaling molecule that is responsible for dorsal-ventral cell interactions during wing development.
Irvine, KD.  1999.  Fringe, Notch, and making developmental boundaries. Current opinion in genetics & development. 9:434-41. AbstractWebsite
Multiple mechanisms are involved in positioning and restricting specialized dorsal-ventral border cells in the Drosophila wing, including modulation of Notch signaling by Fringe, autonomous inhibition by Notch ligands, and inhibition of Notch target genes by Nubbin. Recent studies have revealed that Fringe also modulates a Notch-mediated signaling process between dorsal and ventral cells in the Drosophila eye, establishing an organizer of eye growth and patterning along the dorsal-ventral midline. Fringe-dependent modulation of Notch signaling also plays a key role in Drosophila leg segmentation and growth. Lunatic Fringe has been shown to be required for vertebrate somitogenesis, where it appears to act as a crucial link between a molecular clock and the regulation of Notch signaling.
Rauskolb, C, Correia T, Irvine KD.  1999.  Fringe-dependent separation of dorsal and ventral cells in the Drosophila wing. Nature. 401:476-80. AbstractWebsite
The separation of cells into populations that do not intermix, termed compartments, is a fundamental organizing principle during development. Dorsal-ventral compartmentalization of the Drosophila wing is regulated downstream of the apterous (ap) gene, which encodes a transcription factor that specifies dorsal wing fate. fringe (fng) is normally expressed by dorsal cells downstream of ap; here we show that fng plays a key role in dorsal-ventral compartmentalization. Loss of fng function causes dorsal cells to violate the compartment boundary, and ectopic expression of the Fng protein causes ventral cells to violate thecompartment boundary. Fng modulates signalling through the Notch receptor. Notch and its ligands are essential for formation of the dorsal-ventral compartment border, and repositioning the stripe of Notch activation that is normally established there appears to reposition the compartment border. However, activation of Notch does not itself confer either dorsal or ventral cell location, and fng can influence compartmentalization even within regions of ubiquitous Notch activation. Our results indicate that the primary mechanism by which fng establishes a compartment border is by positioning a stripe of Notch activation, but also that fng may exert additional influences on compartmentalization.
Haines, N, Irvine KD.  2005.  Functional analysis of Drosophila beta1,4-N-acetlygalactosaminyltransferases. Glycobiology. 15:335-46. AbstractWebsite
Members of the mammalian beta1,4-galactosyltransferase family are among the best studied glycosyltransferases, but the requirements for all members of this family within an animal have not previously been determined. Here, we describe analysis of two Drosophila genes, beta4GalNAcTA (CG8536) and beta4GalNAcTB (CG14517), that are homologous to mammalian beta1,4-galactosyltransferases. Like their mammalian homologs, these glycosyltransferases use N-acetylglucosamine as an acceptor substrate. However, they transfer N-acetylgalactosamine rather than galactose. This activity, together with amino acid sequence similarity, places them among a group of recently identified invertebrate beta1,4-N-acetylgalactosaminyltransferases. To investigate the biological functions of these genes, null mutations were generated by imprecise excision of a transposable element (beta4GalNAcTA) or by gene-targeted homologous recombination (beta4GalNAcTB). Flies mutant for beta4GalNAcTA are viable and fertile but display behavioral phenotypes suggestive of essential roles for GalNAc-beta1,4-GlcNAc containing glycoconjugates in neuronal and/or muscular function. beta4GalNAcTB mutants are viable and display no evident morphological or behavioral phenotypes. Flies doubly mutant for both genes display only the behavioral phenotypes associated with mutation of beta4GalNAcTA. Thus Drosophila homologs of the mammalian beta4GalT family are essential for neuromuscular physiology or development but are not otherwise required for viability, fertility, or external morphology.