The suppressor gene, su(s)2, in Drosophila melanogaster restores the production of red and brown eye pigments for some purple and vermilion mutant alleles, respectively. We showed previously that the product of the su(s)+ allele caused inhibition of the sepiapterin synthase A produced by the purple mutant but did not affect the wild-type enzyme. Suppression was accomplished by removing su(s)+ from the genome. We now report that the tryptophan oxygenase, produced by suppressible vermilion alleles, is also inhibited by extracts from su(s)+ flies. The inhibition of the vermilion enzyme can be reduced or eliminated, respectively, by prior storage of the extract at 4 or -20°C or by boiling, whereas the wild-type enzyme is not affected by extracts of su(s)+ flies. Also, when the suppressible vermilion strain is raised on certain diets, brown eye pigment production occurs. This epigenetic suppression was reduced by the presence of an extra copy of su(s)+ in the genome. These data support a posttranslational mechanism for regulation of enzyme activity in which the activity of the mutant enzyme is reduced by the product of the su(s)+ allele. How the su(s)+ gene product can distinguish between the normal and the mutant forms of these two enzymes is discussed, along with other mechanisms for suppression that are currently under investigation.
- epigenetic suppression
- tryptophan oxygenase