Our gene of the month is Fezzik - the name of the giant in the book and film The Princess Bride - which has been given to a fruit fly gene formerly known as CG9509. It comes from a new research paper by two scientists in Germany - Amanda Glaser-Schmitt and John Parsch - who were investigating the role of a control switch in the DNA near the gene. They were finding out how small changes in the DNA sequence of the switch found in various populations of flies around the world affected the activity of the gene, whose function was previously unknown.
The researchers discovered that the gene normally acts to keep a lid on growth, and variations in the genetic control switch lead to subtle differences in body size in different populations. In fact, embryos and adult flies completely lacking CG9509 are unusually large - hence renaming it after the gentle giant Fezzik. Although the name hasn’t yet been officially adopted by the scientific community as it was only coined in January this year, we’re sure the researchers hope that their new name will make a big impact.