Selector Genes, Polymorphisms, and Evolution

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Science  12 Jan 1996:
Vol. 271, Issue 5246, pp. 160
DOI: 10.1126/science.271.5246.160


Evolution has been thought to act on small changes in the characteristics of organisms coded by genes called realizator genes. D. Tautz explains how a new result in this issue of Science by Gibson and Hogness (p. 200) shows that this may not always be true. A small phenotypic variation in Drosophila (sensitivity to ether), apparent only under environmental stress, turns out to be coded by a polymorphism in a selector gene, Ultrabithorax, a member of a class of genes that specifies whole body parts and anatomical regions.