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Development. 1999 Feb;126(3):577-86.

Wingless signaling in the Drosophila embryo: zygotic requirements and the role of the frizzled genes.

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Institut für Genetik, Heinrich Heine Universität Düsseldorf, Germany. muellear@uni-duesseldorf.


Wingless signaling plays a central role during epidermal patterning in Drosophila. We have analyzed zygotic requirements for Wingless signaling in the embryonic ectoderm by generating synthetic deficiencies that uncover more than 99% of the genome. We found no genes required for initial wingless expression, other than previously identified segmentation genes. In contrast, maintenance of wingless expression shows a high degree of zygotic transcriptional requirements. Besides known genes, we have identified at least two additional genomic regions containing new genes involved in Wingless maintenance. We also assayed for the zygotic requirements for Wingless response and found that no single genomic region was required for the cytoplasmic accumulation of Armadillo in the receiving cells. Surprisingly, embryos homozygously deleted for the candidate Wingless receptor, Dfrizzled2, showed a normal Wingless response. However, the Armadillo response to Wingless was strongly reduced in double mutants of both known members of the frizzled family in Drosophila, frizzled and Dfrizzled2. Based on their expression pattern during embryogenesis, different Frizzled receptors may play unique but overlapping roles in development. In particular, we suggest that Frizzled and Dfrizzled2 are both required for Wingless autoregulation, but might be dispensable for late Engrailed maintenance. While Wingless signaling in embryos mutant for frizzled and Dfrizzled2 is affected, Wingless protein is still internalized into cells adjacent to wingless-expressing cells. Incorporation of Wingless protein may therefore involve cell surface molecules in addition to the genetically defined signaling receptors of the frizzled family.

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