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Cell. 1988 Jul 1;54(1):95-104.

The bicoid protein determines position in the Drosophila embryo in a concentration-dependent manner.

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Max-Planck-Institut für Entwicklungsbiologie Abteilung III Genetik, Tübingen, Federal Republic of Germany.


The bicoid (bcd) protein in a Drosophila embryo is derived from an anteriorly localized mRNA and comes to be distributed in an exponential concentration gradient along the anteroposterior axis. To determine whether the levels of bcd protein are directly related to certain cell fates, we manipulated the density and distribution of bcd mRNA by genetic means, measured the resultant alterations in height and shape of the bcd protein gradient, and correlated the gradient with the fate map of the respective embryos. Increases or decreases in bcd protein levels in a given region of the embryo cause a corresponding posterior or anterior shift of anterior anlagen in the embryo. The bcd protein thus has the properties of a morphogen that autonomously determines positions in the anterior half of the embryo.

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