Indexed on: 08 Jun '11Published on: 08 Jun '11Published in: Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Drosophila Down syndrome cell adhesion molecule (Dscam) potentially produces more than 150,000 cell adhesion molecules that share two alternative transmembrane/juxtamembrane (TM) domains, which dictate the dendrite versus axon subcellular distribution and function of different Dscam isoforms. Vertebrate genomes contain two closely related genes, DSCAM and DSCAM-Like1 (DSCAML1), which do not have extensive alternative splicing. We investigated the functional conservation between invertebrate Dscams and vertebrate DSCAMs by cross-species rescue assays and found that human DSCAM and DSCAML1 partially, but substantially, rescued the larval lethality of Drosophila Dscam mutants. Interestingly, both human DSCAM and DSCAML1 were targeted to the dendrites in Drosophila neurons, had synergistic rescue effects with Drosophila Dscam[TM2], and preferentially rescued the dendrite defects of Drosophila Dscam mutant neurons. Therefore, human DSCAM and DSCAML1 are functionally conserved with Drosophila Dscam[TM1] isoforms.