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Development. 2000 Jul;127(13):2897-905.

A conditional rescue system reveals essential functions for the ecdysone receptor (EcR) gene during molting and metamorphosis in Drosophila.

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Department of Genetics, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602-7223, USA.


In Drosophila, pulses of the steroid hormone ecdysone trigger larval molting and metamorphosis and coordinate aspects of embryonic development and adult reproduction. At each of these developmental stages, the ecdysone signal is thought to act through a heteromeric receptor composed of the EcR and USP nuclear receptor proteins. Mutations that inactivate all EcR protein isoforms (EcR-A, EcR-B1, and EcR-B2) are embryonic lethal, hindering analysis of EcR function during later development. Using transgenes in which a heat shock promoter drives expression of an EcR cDNA, we have employed temperature-dependent rescue of EcR null mutants to determine EcR requirements at later stages of development. Our results show that EcR is required for hatching, at each larval molt, and for the initiation of metamorphosis. In EcR mutants arrested prior to metamorphosis, expression of ecdysone-responsive genes is blocked and normal ecdysone responses of both imaginal and larval tissues are blocked at an early stage. These results show that EcR mediates ecdysone signaling at multiple developmental stages and implicate EcR in the reorganization of imaginal and larval tissues at the onset of metamorphosis.

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