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Development. 1997 Oct;124(19):3747-54.

Integration of the head and trunk segmentation systems controls cephalic furrow formation in Drosophila.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology, Princeton University, New Jersey 08540, USA. vincent@cict.fr


Genetic and molecular analyses of patterning of the Drosophila embryo have shown that the process of segmentation of the head is fundamentally different from the process of segmentation of the trunk. The cephalic furrow (CF), one of the first morphological manifestations of the patterning process, forms at the juxtaposition of these two patterning systems. We report here that the initial step in CF formation is a change in shape and apical positioning of a single row of cells. The anteroposterior position of these initiator cells may be defined by the overlapping expression of the head gap gene buttonhead (btd) and the primary pair-rule gene even-skipped (eve). Re-examination of the btd and eve phenotypes in live embryos indicated that both genes are required for CF formation. Further, Eve expression in initiator cells was found to be dependent upon btd activity. The control of eve expression by btd in these cells is the first indication of a new level of integrated regulation that interfaces the head and trunk segmentation systems. In conjunction with previous data on the btd and eve embryonic phenotypes, our results suggest that interaction between these two genes both controls initiation of a specific morphogenetic movement that separates two morphogenetic fields and contributes to patterning the hinge region that demarcates the procephalon from the segmented germ band.

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