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EMBO J. 1988 Jan;7(1):189-96.

Head and tail development of the Drosophila embryo involves spalt, a novel homeotic gene.

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Max-Planck-Institut für Entwicklungsbiologie, Abteilung III (Genetik), Spemannstrasse 35, D-7400 Tübingen, FRG.


Mutations in spalt (sal), a novel homeotic gene on the second chromosome of Drosophila, cause opposite transformations in two subterminal regions of the embryo: posterior head segments are transformed into anterior thoracic structures and anterior tail segments are transformed into posterior abdominal structures. The embryonic phenotypes of double mutants for sal and various Antennapedia (ANT-C) or bithorax (BX-C) genes indicate that sal acts independently of the hierarchical order of the latter gene complexes. Trans-regulatory gene mutations causing ectopic expression of ANT-C and BX-C genes do not change the realms of sal action. It is proposed that the region-specific action of the sal gene primarily promotes head as opposed to trunk development, while the BX-C gene AbdB distinguishes tail from head.

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