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Mech Dev. 1999 Sep;87(1-2):67-76.

Maternal and zygotic control of serotonin biosynthesis are both necessary for Drosophila germband extension.

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CR C. Bernard 'Pathologie expérimentale et communications cellulaires', IFR Hôpital Lariboisière, Service de Biochimie, 2 rue Ambroise Paré, 75475, Paris, France.


In the accompanying paper, we report that Drosophila gastrulae genetically depleted for the 5-HT(2Dro) serotonin receptor or for serotonin show abnormal germband extension. In wild-type gastrulae, peaks of both the 5-HT(2Dro) receptor and serotonin coincide precisely with the onset of germband extension. Here, we assessed the genetic requirement for this peak of serotonin. We report the characterisation of the serotonin content of individual Drosophila embryos, progeny from flies heterozygous for mutations in genes that are involved in the serotonin synthesis pathway and include the GTP-cyclohydrolase, tryptophan hydroxylase and DOPA decarboxylase loci. The peak of serotonin synthesis at the beginning of germband extension appears strictly dependent upon the maternal deposition of biopterins, products of GTP-cyclohydrolase and cofactors of tryptophan hydroxylase and upon the zygotic synthesis of both tryptophan hydroxylase and DOPA decarboxylase enzymes. Mutant embryos with an impairment in this peak of serotonin synthesis die with a cuticular organisation which is also observed in embryos deficient for the 5-HT(2Dro) receptor. This characteristic cuticular phenotype is thus the hallmark of desynchronisation of the morphogenetic movements during gastrulation. Together, these findings provide additional support for the notion that serotonin, acting through the 5-HT(2Dro) receptor, is necessary for proper gastrulation.

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