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Genetics. 1996 Feb;142(2):481-92.

Genetic characterization of the homeodomain-independent activity of the Drosophila fushi tarazu gene product.

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Department of Zoology, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada.


The gene product of fushi tarazu (FTZ) has a homeodomain (HD)-independent activity. Ectopic expression of a FTZ protein that lacks half the HD in embryos results in the anti-ftz phenotype. We have characterized this FTZ HD-independent activity further. Ectopic expression of the HD-independent FTZ activity, in the absence of FTZ activity expressed from the endogenous ftz gene, was sufficient to result in the anti-ftz phenotype. Since the anti-ftz phenotype is a first instar larvae composed nearly entirely of FTZ-dependent cuticular structures derived from the even-numbered parasegments, this result suggests that expression of the HD-independent FTZ activity is sufficient to establish FTZ-dependent cuticle. Activation of FTZ-dependent Engrailed (EN) expression and activation of the ftz enhancer were HD-independent. The ftz enhancer element, AE-1, was activated by the HD-independent FTZ activity; however, the ftz enhancer element, AE-BS2CCC, which is the same as AE-1 except for the inactivation of two FTZ HD DNA-binding sites, was not. Activation of the ftz enhancer by ectopic expression of FTZ activity was effective only during gastrulation and germ band extension. In the discussion, we propose an explanation for these results.

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