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Cell. 1989 Dec 22;59(6):1179-88.

Relocalization of the dorsal protein from the cytoplasm to the nucleus correlates with its function.

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Biology Department, Princeton University, New Jersey 08544.


dorsal is one of the maternally active dorsal-ventral polarity genes of Drosophila and is homologous to the vertebrate proto-oncogene c-rel. In wild-type embryos, the dorsal protein is found in the cytoplasm during cleavage. After the nuclei migrate to the periphery of the embryo, a ventral-to-dorsal gradient of nuclear dorsal protein is established. The formation of the nuclear gradient is disrupted in mutant embryos from other maternally active dorsal-ventral polarity genes: in dorsalized embryos only cytoplasmic protein is observed, while in ventralized embryos the nuclear gradient is shifted dorsally. My findings suggest that nuclear localization is critical for dorsal to function as a morphogen and that the distribution of the dorsal protein determines cell fate along the dorsal-ventral axis.

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