And finally, our gene of the month is Amontillado, a gene with a rather macabre twist. Horror fans may know 19th century writer Edgar Allan Poe’s story “The Cask of Amontillado”, where an unwitting victim is lured into a wine cellar with the promise of a precious vintage sherry, then bricked up alive by the murderous protagonist. Rather like this unfortunate literary end, fruit fly larvae with a faulty Amontillado gene cannot hatch, and remain trapped in their pupae to die.
In contrast to many of the genes we’ve featured in this podcast, the mammalian versions of Amontillado were actually identified first in the form of a protein called PC2, which chops up hormone precursors to make finished hormones. The victims of PC2 include a substance called pro-opiomelanocortin, which can be processed in a variety of ways to make lots of different useful hormones, none of which give you a predisposition to liking sherry.