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Genes Dev. 1990 Nov;4(11):2011-23.

Pattern-specific expression of the Drosophila decapentaplegic gene in imaginal disks is regulated by 3' cis-regulatory elements.

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  • 1McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research, University of Wisconsin, Madison 53706.


The pattern of structures on most of the adult cuticle of Drosophila is determined in the larval imaginal disks. The Drosophila growth factor homolog decapentaplegic (dpp) is believed to participate in pattern formation in imaginal disks, primarily along what will become the proximal-to-distal axis of adult appendages. We report that dpp expression in wing, leg, and eye-antennal imaginal disks is localized to a band of cells along the presumptive proximal-to-distal axis. The pattern and level of dpp expression in imaginal disks is affected by mutant lesions that remove 3' cis-regulatory sequences. We demonstrate that one portion of the 3' cis-regulatory region contains regulatory elements sufficient to activate gene expression in a subset of the cells that normally express dpp in the imaginal disks, allowing rescue of dpp mutant phenotypes. We propose that the complete dpp expression pattern is generated by an array of 3' regulatory elements that differ in their potency in specific disks and in certain positions within a disk. The identification of the factors that activate these elements should provide clues as to how positional information is encoded in imaginal disks.

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