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Dev Biol. 2002 Sep 15;249(2):283-99.

Novel behavioral and developmental defects associated with Drosophila single-minded.

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Institut für Neurobiologie, Universität Münster, Badestrasse 9, D-48149 Münster, Germany.


In Drosophila, the development of the midline cells of the embryonic ventral nerve cord depends on the function of the bHLH-PAS transcription factor Single-minded (Sim). The expression domain of sim, however, is also found anterior and posterior to the developing ventral cord throughout the germ band. Indeed, mutations in sim were identified based on their characteristic cuticle phenotype. Eight abdominal segments (A1-A8) can be easily seen in the larval cuticle, while three more can be identified during embryogenesis. Cells located in A8-A10 give rise to the formation of the genital imaginal discs, and a highly modified A11 segment gives rise to the anal pads that flank the anus. sim is expressed in all these segments and is required for the formation of both the anal pads and the genital imaginal discs. A new temperature-sensitive sim allele allowed an assessment of possible postembryonic function(s) of sim. Reduction of sim function below a 50% threshold leads to sterile flies with marked behavioral deficits. Most mutant sim flies were only able to walk in circles. Further analyses indicated that this phenotype is likely due to defects in the brain central complex. This brain region, which has previously been implicated in the control of walking behavior, expresses high levels of nuclear Sim protein in three clusters of neurons in each central brain hemisphere. Additional Sim localization in the medullary and laminar neurons of the optic lobes may correlate with the presence of ectopic axon bundles observed in the optic lobes of sim mutant flies.

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