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Dev Biol. 2005 Dec 1;288(1):179-93. Epub 2005 Nov 8.

mummy/cystic encodes an enzyme required for chitin and glycan synthesis, involved in trachea, embryonic cuticle and CNS development--analysis of its role in Drosophila tracheal morphogenesis.

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  • 1Institut de Biologia Molecular de Barcelona (CSIC), Parc Cientific de Barcelona, Carrer Josep Samitier 1-5, 08028 Barcelona, Spain.


Tracheal and nervous system development are two model systems for the study of organogenesis in Drosophila. In two independent screens, we identified three alleles of a gene involved in tracheal, cuticle and CNS development. Here, we show that these alleles, and the previously identified cystic and mummy, all belong to the same complementation group. These are mutants of a gene encoding the UDP-N-acetylglucosamine diphosphorylase, an enzyme responsible for the production of UDP-N-acetylglucosamine, an important intermediate in chitin and glycan biosynthesis. cyst was originally singled out as a gene required for the regulation of tracheal tube diameter. We characterized the cyst/mmy tracheal phenotype and upon histological examination concluded that mmy mutant embryos lack chitin-containing structures, such as the procuticle at the epidermis and the taenidial folds in the tracheal lumen. While most of their tracheal morphogenesis defects can be attributed to the lack of chitin, when compared to krotzkopf verkehrt (kkv) chitin-synthase mutants, mmy mutants showed a stronger phenotype, suggesting that some of the mmy phenotypes, like the axon guidance defects, are chitin-independent. We discuss the implications of these new data in the mechanism of size control in the Drosophila trachea.

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