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Development. 1997 Oct;124(19):3715-26.

Control of cell fate and polarity in the adult abdominal segments of Drosophila by optomotor-blind.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Washington University, St Louis, MO 63130, USA.


In an accompanying report (Kopp, A., Muskavitch, M. A. T. and Duncan, I. (1997) Development 124, 3703-3714), we show that Hh protein secreted by posterior compartment cells patterns the posterior portion of the anterior compartment in adult abdominal segments. Here we show that this function of hh is mediated by optomotor-blind (omb). omb- mutants mimic the effects of loss-of-function alleles of hh: structures from the posterior of the anterior compartment are lost, and often this region develops as a mirror image of the anterior portion. Structures from the anterior part of the posterior compartment are also lost. In the pupa, omb expression in abdominal histoblasts is highest at or near the compartment boundary, and decreases in a shallow gradient toward the anterior. This gradient is due to activation of omb by Hh secreted by posterior compartment cells. In contrast to imaginal discs, this Hh signaling is not mediated by dpp or wg. We describe several gain-of-function alleles that cause ectopic expression of omb in the anterior of the segment. Most of these cause the anterior region to develop with posterior characteristics without affecting polarity. However, an allele that drives high level ubiquitous expression of omb (QdFab) causes the anterior tergite to develop as a mirror-image duplication of the posterior tergite, a pattern opposite to that seen in omb- mutants. Ubiquitous expression of hh causes similar double-posterior patterning. We find that omb- alleles suppress this effect of ectopic hh expression and that posterior patterning becomes independent of hh in the QdFab mutant. These observations indicate that omb is the primary target of hh signaling in the adult abdomen. However, it is clear that other targets exist. One of these is likely Scruffy, a novel gene that we describe, which acts in parallel to omb. To explain the effects of omb alleles, we propose that both anterior and posterior compartments in the abdomen are polarized by underlying symmetric gradients of unknown origin. We suggest that omb has two functions. First, it specifies the development of appropriate structures both anterior and posterior to the compartment boundary. Second, it causes cells to reverse their interpretation of polarity specified by the underlying symmetric gradients.

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