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Development. 2001 Nov;128(21):4229-39.

rst and its paralogue kirre act redundantly during embryonic muscle development in Drosophila.

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  • 1Institut für Biologie III, Schänzlestr.1, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, D-79104 Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany.


The polynucleate myotubes of vertebrates and invertebrates form by fusion of myoblasts. We report the involvement of the Drosophila melanogaster Roughest (Rst) protein as a new membrane-spanning component in this process. Rst is strongly expressed in mesodermal tissues during embryogenesis, but rst null mutants display only subtle embryonic phenotypes. Evidence is presented that this is due to functional redundancy between Rst and its paralogue Kirre. Both are highly related single-pass transmembrane proteins with five extracellular immunoglobulin domains and three conserved motifs in the intracellular domain. The expression patterns of kirre and rst overlap during embryonic development in muscle founder cells. Simultaneous deletion of both genes causes an almost complete failure of fusion between muscle founder cells and fusion-competent myoblasts. This defect can be rescued by one copy of either gene. Moreover, Rst, like Kirre is a myoblast attractant.

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