Human Disease Genes That Are Found in Flies, Worms, & Yeast

Human Disease Genes That Are Found in Flies, Worms, & Yeast

Unity of Life
Human Disease Genes That Are
Found in Flies, Worms, & Yeast


Flies don't get kidney disease, and worms don't get heart disease, yet many of the human genes that are faulty in these and other human disorders have parallel genes in model organisms, where they can be studied more easily.

After the fly's genome was sequenced in March 2000, a team of scientists found that 61 percent of the human genes known to be mutated in 289 human diseases have close equivalents in flies. Many of these genes also have parallels in worms and even in yeast.

The extent of similarity between some of the human disease genes and genes that have been sequenced in flies, worms, and yeast is shown below. Genes with the highest degree of sequence similarity are indicated by the filled circle. The next group is two-thirds. And a lower degree of similarity is shown by the one-third filled circle. Empty circles indicate extremely low or no similarity between the genes.

"Some of the human disease genes can be found in yeast—they are very ancient genes," says Gerald Rubin, the report's lead author.* "Some can be found only in worms and flies, and some only in flies. Of course the closest similarity would be with the mouse. Any gene on this list would have a parallel in the mouse."
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Chart Legend
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Human Areas Disease Fly Worm Yeast
Bones Multiple Exotoses
Ossification at tips of femur, pelvis, or ribs (EXT1 gene) image image image
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Blood Leukemia
chronic myelogenosleukemia, a cancer of the blood (ABL1 gene) image image image
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Bruton Agammaglobulinemia
lack of mature B cells (BTK gene) image image image
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G6PD Deficiency
drug- and stress-induced rupture of red blood cells (G6PD gene) image image image
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Brain Early-Onset Alzheimer Disease
(PS1 gene) image image image
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Fragile X Syndrome
common cause of mental retardation (FMR1 gene) image image image
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Juvenile Parkinson Disease
(PARK2 gene) image image image
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Colon Hereditary Nonpolyposis Cancer
(MSH2 gene) image image image
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Adenomatous Polyposis
polyps that become malignant (APC gene) image image image
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Ears Hereditary Deafness
(MYO15 gene) image image image
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Eyes Retinoblastoma
cancer of the eye (RB1 gene) image image image
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Heart Familial Cardiac Myopathy
inherited cardiac disease (MYH7 gene) image image image
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Long QT Syndrome
sometimes fatal cardiac arrhythmias (3-SCN5A gene) image image image
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Kidney Polycystic Kidney Disease 2
(PKD2 gene) image image image
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Liver Wilson Disease
buildup of copper in cells, causing liver disease and other symptoms (ATP7B gene) image image image
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Lung Cystic Fibrosis
progressive disease of lungs and pancreas (CFTR gene) image image image
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Lung Cancer
caused by defects in P53 gene, which can also cause cancer of esophagus, colon, brain, lung, breast, and skin (P53 gene) image image image
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Muscles Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy
progressive atrophy of muscles (DMD gene) image image image
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Pancreas Pancreatic Cancer
(MADH4 gene) image image image
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Pancreatic Cancer
(RAS gene) image image image
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Prostate Advanced Cancer of the Prostate
caused by mutations in PTEN gene, which can also cause cancer of brain, endometrium, and breast (PTEN gene) image image image
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Skin Xeroderma Pigmentosum D
early-onset skin cancer (XPD gene) image image image
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Neurofibromatosis 1
soft tumors at many sites, plus skeletal and neurologic defects (NF1 gene) image image image
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Thyroid Cancer of the Thyroid
multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN2 gene) image image image
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* SOURCE: G.M. Rubin et al., "Comparative Geonomics of Eukaryotes," Science 287 (March 24, 2000): 2210-11, fig. 1.