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Mech Dev. 2010 May-Jun;127(5-6):265-80. doi: 10.1016/j.mod.2010.03.003. Epub 2010 Mar 27.

Diverse modes of Drosophila tracheal fusion cell transcriptional regulation.

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Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Program in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Department of Biology, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3280, USA.


Drosophila tracheal fusion cells play multiple important roles in guiding and facilitating tracheal branch fusion. Mechanistic understanding of how fusion cells function during development requires deciphering their transcriptional circuitry. In this paper, three genes with distinct patterns of fusion cell expression were dissected by transgenic analysis to identify the cis-regulatory modules that mediate their transcription. Bioinformatic analysis involving phylogenetic comparisons coupled with mutational experiments were employed. The dysfusion bHLH-PAS gene was shown to have two fusion cell cis-regulatory modules; one driving initial expression and another autoregulatory module to enhance later transcription. Mutational dissection of the early module identified at least four distinct inputs, and included putative binding sites for ETS and POU-homeodomain proteins. The ETS transcription factor Pointed mediates the transcriptional output of the branchless/breathless signaling pathway, suggesting that this pathway directly controls dysfusion expression. Fusion cell cis-regulatory modules of CG13196 and CG15252 require two Dysfusion:Tango binding sites, but additional sequences modulate the breadth of activation in different fusion cell classes. These results begin to decode the regulatory circuitry that guides transcriptional activation of genes required for fusion cell morphogenesis.

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