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Dev Biol. 2011 May 15;353(2):217-28. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2011.02.023. Epub 2011 Mar 3.

A genetic screen for mutations affecting gonad formation in Drosophila reveals a role for the slit/robo pathway.

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Department of Biology, Johns Hopkins University, 3400 N Charles St., Baltimore, MD, USA.


Organogenesis is a complex process requiring multiple cell types to associate with one another through correct cell contacts and in the correct location to achieve proper organ morphology and function. To better understand the mechanisms underlying gonad formation, we performed a mutagenesis screen in Drosophila and identified twenty-four genes required for gonadogenesis. These genes affect all different aspects of gonad formation and provide a framework for understanding the molecular mechanisms that control these processes. We find that gonad formation is regulated by multiple, independent pathways; some of these regulate the key cell adhesion molecule DE-cadherin, while others act through distinct mechanisms. In addition, we discover that the Slit/Roundabout pathway, best known for its role in regulating axonal guidance, is essential for proper gonad formation. Our findings shed light on the complexities of gonadogenesis and the genetic regulation required for proper organ formation.

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