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J Embryol Exp Morphol. 1983 Aug;76:297-331.

Role of the esc+ gene product in ensuring the selective expression of segment-specific homeotic genes in Drosophila.


The product of the extra sex combs+ (esc+) gene is required during embryogenesis for the correct determination of segments in Drosophila. If this product is absent, most segments develop like the normal eighth abdominal segment. Here, I extend previous results (Struhl, 1981a) showing that this phenotype results in large part from indiscriminate expression of the bithorax-complex genes which are normally active only in particular segments of the thorax and abdomen. In addition, I test whether the esc+ gene product is required for the correct expression of other homeotic genes. First, I have examined two genes of the Antennapedia-complex (Sex combs reduced+ and Antennapedia+): I find that both genes are normally required in only some of the body segments, but that in the absence of the esc+ gene product, both appear to function adventitiously in other segments. Second, comparing esc+ and esc- embryos lacking both these genes as well as the bithorax-complex, I find that additional homeotic genes (possibly those normally involved in specifying head segments) appear to be expressed indiscriminately when the esc+ gene product is absent. Finally, I present evidence that the products of the esc+ gene and the Polycomb+ gene (a second gene required for the correct regulation of the bithorax-complex) act independently. On the basis of these results, I propose a tentative outline of the roles and realms of action of all of these genes.

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