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Development. 2000 Jan;127(2):209-16.

Coexpression of the homeobox genes Distal-less and homothorax determines Drosophila antennal identity.

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1
Department of Anatomy, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA.

Abstract

The Distal-less gene is known for its role in proximodistal patterning of Drosophila limbs. However, Distal-less has a second critical function during Drosophila limb development, that of distinguishing the antenna from the leg. The antenna-specifying activity of Distal-less is genetically separable from the proximodistal patterning function in that certain Distal-less allelic combinations exhibit antenna-to-leg transformations without proximodistal truncations. Here, we show that Distal-less acts in parallel with homothorax, a previously identified antennal selector gene, to induce antennal differentiation. While mutations in either Distal-less or homothorax cause antenna-to-leg transformations, neither gene is required for the others expression, and both genes are required for antennal expression of spalt. Coexpression of Distal-less and homothorax activates ectopic spalt expression and can induce the formation of ectopic antennae at novel locations in the body, including the head, the legs, the wings and the genital disc derivatives. Ectopic expression of homothorax alone is insufficient to induce antennal differentiation from most limb fields, including that of the wing. Distal-less therefore is required for more than induction of a proximodistal axis upon which homothorax superimposes antennal identity. Based on their genetic and biochemical properties, we propose that Homothorax and Extradenticle may serve as antenna-specific cofactors for Distal-less.

PMID:
10603339
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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