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J Comp Neurol. 2003 Mar 3;457(2):123-32.

Neurosecretory identity conferred by the apterous gene: lateral horn leucokinin neurons in Drosophila.

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Departamento de Biología, Fisiología Animal, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, 28049 Madrid, Spain.


The LIM-HD protein Apterous has been shown to regulate expression of the FMRFamide neuropeptide in Drosophila neurons (Benveniste et al. [1998] Development 125:4757-4765). To test whether Apterous has a broader role in controlling neurosecretory identity, we analyzed the expression of several neuropeptides in apterous (ap) mutants. We show that Apterous is necessary for expression of the Leucokinin neuropeptide in a pair of brain neurons located in the lateral horn region of the protocerebrum (LHLK neurons). ap null mutants are depleted of Leucokinin in these cells, whereas hypomorphic mutants show reduced Leucokinin expression. Other Leucokinin-containing neurons are not affected by mutations in ap gene. Co-expression of apterous and Leucokinin is observed exclusively in the LHLK neurons, from larval stages to adulthood. Rescue assays performed in null ap mutants, by expressing Apterous protein under apGAL4 and elavGAL4 drivers, demonstrate the recovery of Leucokinin in the LHLK neurons. These results reinforce the emerging role of the LIM-HD proteins in determining neuronal identity. They also clarify the neuroendocrine phenotype of apterous mutants.

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