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Dev Cell. 2013 Jan 14;24(1):89-97. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2012.11.013.

Drosophila left/right asymmetry establishment is controlled by the Hox gene abdominal-B.

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Institute of Biology Valrose, iBV, University of Nice Sophia-Antipolis, UMR7277-CNRS, UMR1091-INSERM, Parc Valrose, 06108 Nice Cedex 2, France.


In Drosophila, left/right (LR) asymmetry is apparent in the directional looping of the gut and male genitalia. The dextral orientation of the organs depends on the activity of a single gene, MyosinID (myoID), whose mutation leads to a fully inverted LR axis, thus revealing the activity of a recessive sinistral pathway. Here, we present the identification of the Hox gene Abdominal-B (Abd-B) as an upstream regulator of LR determination. This role appears distinct from its function in anteroposterior patterning. We show that the Abd-Bm isoform binds to regulatory sequences of myoID and controls MyoID expression in the organ LR organizer. Abd-Bm is also required for the sinistral pathway. Thus, when Abd-B activity is missing, no symmetry breaking occurs and flies develop symmetrically. These findings identify the Hox gene Abd-B as directing the earliest events of LR asymmetry establishment in Drosophila.

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