V-ATPases are phylogenetically widespread, highly conserved, multisubunit proton pumps. Originally characterised in endomembranes, they have been found to energise transport across plasma membranes in a range of animal cells and particularly in certain epithelia. While yeast is the model of choice for the rapid generation and identification of V-ATPase mutants, it does not allow their analysis in a plasma membrane context. For such purposes, Drosophila melanogaster is a uniquely suitable model. Accordingly, we have cloned and characterised genes encoding several V-ATPase subunits in D. melanogaster and, using P-element technology, we have succeeded in generating multiple new alleles. Reporter gene constructs reveal ubiquitous expression, but at particularly high levels in those epithelial thought to be energised by V-ATPases, and several of the alleles have lethal recessive phenotypes characterised by epithelial dysfunction. These results, while providing the first gene knockouts of V-ATPases in animals, also illustrate the general utility of D. melanogaster as a model for the genetic analysis of ion transport and its control in epithelia.

This content is only available via PDF.