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Genes Dev. 1988 Jul;2(7):843-52.

The maternal sex determination gene daughterless has zygotic activity necessary for the formation of peripheral neurons in Drosophila.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California, San Francisco 94143.


The daughterless (da) gene is known to have separate maternal and zygotic functions: Maternally supplied daughterless activity is required for proper sex determination and dosage compensation in female embryos, whereas loss of zygotically supplied da+ activity causes embryonic lethality in both male and female embryos. We have found that the zygotic da+ activity is necessary for neural development: The use of neuron-specific antibodies and beta-galactosidase-marked X chromosomes has revealed that in both male and female embryos deletions or strong mutations of the da gene remove all peripheral neurons and associated sensory structures without disrupting the epithelium from which they derive. Partial da+ function causes partial removal of peripheral neurons. Our results indicate that da+ is required for the formation of peripheral neurons and their associated sensory structures.

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