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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Nov 7;103(45):16794-9. Epub 2006 Oct 30.

Mutation of TweedleD, a member of an unconventional cuticle protein family, alters body shape in Drosophila.

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  • 1Section of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of California at San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0349, USA.


Body shape determination represents a critical aspect of morphogenesis. In the course of investigating body shape regulation in Drosophila, we have identified a dominant mutation, TweedleD(1) (TwdlD(1)), that alters overall dimensions at the larval and pupal stages. Characterization of the affected locus led to the discovery of a gene family that has 27 members in Drosophila and is found only among insects. Analysis of gene expression at the RNA and protein levels revealed gene-specific temporal and spatial patterns in ectodermally derived tissues. In addition, light microscopic studies of fluorescently tagged proteins demonstrated that Tweedle proteins are incorporated into larval cuticular structures. This demonstration that a mutation in a Drosophila cuticular protein gene alters overall morphology confirms a role for the fly exoskeleton in determining body shape. Furthermore, parallels between these findings and studies of cuticle collagen genes in Caenorhabditis elegans suggest that the exoskeleton influences body shape in diverse organisms.

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