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Genetics. 1983 Nov; 105(3): 615–632.
PMCID: PMC1202177

Maternal-Zygotic Gene Interactions during Formation of the Dorsoventral Pattern in Drosophila Embryos


Maternal-zygotic interactions involving the three genes dorsal (dl), twist (twi) and snail (sna) are described. The results suggest that all three are involved in the process by which the dorsoventral pattern of the Drosophila embryo is established. First, the lethal embryonic mutant phenotypes are rather similar. In homozygous twi or sna embryos invagination of the ventral presumptive mesodermal cells fails to occur, and the resulting embryos are devoid of internal organs. This is very similar to the dominant phenotype described for dl; in the case of dl, however, the effect is a maternal one dependent on the mutant genotype of the female. Second, a synergistic interaction has been found whereby dominant lethality of twi- or sna-bearing zygotes is observed in embryos derived from heterozygous dl females at high temperature. The temperature sensitivity of this interaction permitted definition of a temperature-sensitive period which is probably that of dl. This was found to extend from approximately 12 hr prior to oviposition to 2–3 hr of embryogenesis. A zygotic action for the dl gene in addition to the maternal effect was revealed by the finding that extra doses of dl+ in the zygotes can partially rescue the dominant lethality of heterozygous twi embryos derived from heterozygous dl females. Two possible interpretations of the synergism are considered: (1) twi and sna are activated in the embryos as a result of positional signals placed in the egg as a consequence of the functioning of the dl gene during oogenesis and, thus, play a role in embryonic determination. (2) The gene products of dl+ and twi + (or sna+) combine to produce a functional molecule that is involved in the specification of dorsoventral pattern in the early embryo.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
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