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Genetics. 1990 May;125(1):91-101.

Mutations in polycombeotic, a Drosophila polycomb-group gene, cause a wide range of maternal and zygotic phenotypes.

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Department of Biology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland 21218.


The polycomb-group genes, a set of genes characterized by mutations that cause similar phenotypes and dosage-dependent interactions, are required for the normal expression of segment-specific homeotic loci. Here we report that polycombeotic (formerly 1(3)1902), originally identified by a lethal mutation that causes a small-disc phenotype, is also a member of this group of essential genes. Adults homozygous for temperature-sensitive pco alleles that were exposed to the restrictive temperature during larval life display the second and third leg to first leg transformation characteristic of polycomb-group mutants. Adult females homozygous for temperature-sensitive alleles exposed to the restrictive temperature during oogenesis produce embryos that show anterior segments with structures normally unique to the eighth abdominal segment, another transformation characteristic of polycomb-group mutants. Mutations in the polycombeotic gene also cause defects not reported for mutations in other polycomb-group genes. Females homozygous for the most extreme temperature-sensitive allele are sterile, and larvae homozygous for null alleles have small imaginal discs and reduced frequencies of mitotic figures in the brain. Dominant mutations originally identified as enhancers or suppressors of zeste are gain-of-function alleles of polycombeotic. The type and variety of defects displayed by different mutations in this gene indicate that the product might be involved in chromosome structure and/or function.

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