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Bisexual fruit flies show new role for neurochemical

n we mutate the protein, we get less ambient extracellular glutamate, more glutamate receptors, and so a stronger transfer of messages at synapses," Featherstone said.

The gene mutation also made the flies bisexual, leading him to name the gene "genderblind."

"The mutants are completely bisexual, but fertile. It's the first gene that really specifically affects homosexual behavior without affecting heterosexual behavior," he said.

"Trying to understand fly bisexuality sounds silly, but these behavioral changes are important evidence that ambient extracellular glutamate and xCT transport proteins play important, unsuspected roles in brain function," Featherstone said. "We think we'll be able to learn a lot about perception and development from figuring out exactly what's happening in these flies.

"It's amazing how many biomedical breakthroughs have come from crazy directions."


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Contact: Paul Francuch
francuch@uic.edu
312-996-3457
University of Illinois at Chicago
2-Jan-2007


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