The effect of mutations on Drosophila development. Scanning electron micrographs of the eye from (left) a wild-type fly, (middle) a fly carrying a dominant developmental mutation produced by recombinant DNA methods, and (right) a fly carrying a suppresor mutation that partially reverses the effect of the dominant mutation. [Courtesy of Ilaria Rebay, Whitehead Institute, MIT]
In previous chapters, we were introduced to the variety of tasks that proteins perform in biological systems. How some proteins carry out their specific tasks is described in detail in later chapters. In studying a newly discovered protein, cell biologists usually begin by asking what is its function, where is it located, and what is its structure? To answer these questions, investigators employ three tools: the gene that encodes the protein, a mutant cell line or organism that lacks the function of the protein, and a source of the purified protein for biochemical studies. In this chapter we consider various aspects of two basic experimental strategies for obtaining all three tools (Figure 9-1).
The first strategy, often referred to as classical genetics, begins with isolation of a mutant that appears to be defective in some process of interest. Genetic methods then are used to
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