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Dev Biol 1990 Jul;140(1):57-72

Control of the initiation of homeotic gene expression by the gap genes giant and tailless in Drosophila.

Reinitz J, Levine M

Department of Biological Sciences, Fairchild Center, Columbia University, New York, New York 10027.

The process of segmentation in Drosophila is controlled by both maternal and zygotic genes. Members of the gap class of segmentation genes play a key role in this process by interpreting maternal information and controlling the expression of pair-rule and homeotic genes. We have analyzed the pattern of expression of a variety of homeotic, pair-rule, and gap genes in tailless and giant gap mutants. tailless acts in two domains, one anterodorsal and one posterior. In its anterior domain tailless exerts a repressive effect on the expression of fushi tarazu, hunchback, and Deformed. In its posterior domain of action, tailless is responsible for the establishment of Abdominal-B expression and demarcating the posterior boundary of the initial domain of expression of Ultrabithorax. giant is an early zygotic regulator of the gap gene hunchback: in giant- embryos, alterations in the anterior domain of hunchback expression are visible by the beginning of cycle 14. giant also regulates the establishment of the expression patterns of Antennapedia and Abdominal-B. In particular, giant is the factor that controls the anterior limit of early Antennapedia expression.

PMID: 1972684, UI: 90292349

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EMBO J 1989 May;8(5):1527-37

Spatial regulation of the Antennapedia and Ultrabithorax homeotic genes during Drosophila early development.

Irish VF, Martinez-Arias A, Akam M

Department of Genetics, University of Cambridge, UK.

Both maternally supplied products and zygotically acting segmentation genes are required to establish the segment pattern of the Drosophila embryo. These genes are thought to act in part by regulating the expression of the homeotic genes. Products of the maternal and zygotic gap genes are present in the egg prior to blastoderm formation, when the homeotic genes are initially expressed within precisely bounded domains. In order to assess the first regulatory interactions between some of these gap gene products and the homeotic genes, we have examined the spatial distribution of transcripts arising from the homeotic Antp and Ubx genes during early embryogenesis in various mutant backgrounds. Here we show that mutations in both maternally and zygotically acting gap genes differentially affect the initial spatial domains of transcripts arising from each of these homeotic gene promoters. Later in embryogenesis, the patterns of homeotic gene expression change in both the wild-type and mutant cases, suggesting that other regulatory activities come into play. We propose a model in which the initial activation of each homeotic gene promoter depends on a unique combination of gap and pair-rule gene activities.

PMID: 2569971, UI: 89356624

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EMBO J 1990 Apr;9(4):1187-98

Establishment of the Deformed expression stripe requires the combinatorial action of coordinate, gap and pair-rule proteins.

Jack T, McGinnis W

Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06511.

In Drosophila embryos, anterior-posterior positional identities are set and maintained by the expression boundaries of homeotic selector genes. The establishment of the initial expression boundaries of the homeotic genes are in turn dependent on earlier acting patterning genes of Drosophila. To define the combinations of early genes that are required to establish a unique blastoderm stripe of expression of the homeotic gene Deformed, we have analysed single and double patterning mutants and heat shock promoter fusion constructs that ectopically express early acting regulators. We find that the activation of Deformed is dependent on combinatorial input from at least three levels of the early hierarchy. The simplest activation code sufficient to establish Deformed expression, given the absence of negative regulators such as fushi-tarazu, consists of a moderate level of expression from the coordinate gene bicoid, in combination with expression from both the gap gene hunchback, and the pair-rule gene even-skipped. In addition, the activation code for Deformed is redundant; other pair-rule genes in addition to even-skipped can apparently act in combination with bicoid and hunchback to activate Deformed.

PMID: 2323337, UI: 90214629

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Development 1991 Feb;111(2):611-21

Mutually repressive interactions between the gap genes giant and Kruppel define middle body regions of the Drosophila embryo.

Kraut R, Levine M

Department of Biological Sciences, Fairchild Center, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027.

The gap genes play a key role in establishing pair-rule and homeotic stripes of gene expression in the Drosophila embryo. There is mounting evidence that overlapping gradients of gap gene expression are crucial for this process. Here we present evidence that the segmentation gene giant is a bona fide gap gene that is likely to act in concert with hunchback, Kruppel and knirps to initiate stripes of gene expression. We show that Kruppel and giant are expressed in complementary, non-overlapping sets of cells in the early embryo. These complementary patterns depend on mutually repressive interactions between the two genes. Ectopic expression of giant in early embryos results in the selective repression of Kruppel, and advanced-stage embryos show cuticular defects similar to those observed in Kruppel- mutants. This result and others suggest that the strongest regulatory interactions occur among those gap genes expressed in nonadjacent domains. We propose that the precisely balanced overlapping gradients of gap gene expression depend on these strong regulatory interactions, coupled with weak interactions between neighboring genes.

PMID: 1893878, UI: 91372157

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Genes Dev 1988 Mar;2(3):350-60

Temporal and spatial relationships between segmentation and homeotic gene expression in Drosophila embryos: distributions of the fushi tarazu, engrailed, Sex combs reduced, Antennapedia, and Ultrabithorax proteins.

Carroll SB, DiNardo S, O'Farrell PH, White RA, Scott MP

Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder 80309-0347.

The specification of segment number and identity in the Drosophila embryo requires the activity of several classes of genes that may be grouped according to the array of pattern elements that they control. Double-label immunofluorescence was used to simultaneously localize the products of genes representative of the pair-rule segmentation class (fushi tarazu), the segment polarity class (engrailed), and the homeotic class (Sex combs reduced, Antennapedia, and Ultrabithorax) of pattern-regulating genes. The temporal order of appearance of each class of proteins and the precise spatial relationships between the products of the different genes are described with single-cell resolution. Boundaries of gene expression, particularly the parasegmental boundaries, are established by early-acting genes such as fushi tarazu and subsequently respected by the expression patterns of later appearing gene products such as engrailed and Ultrabithorax, suggesting regulatory relationships between certain pairs of genes. In addition, the dynamic transitions observed in spatial relationship among the Sex combs reduced, Antennapedia, and Ultrabithorax homeotic protein patterns during the early period of embryogenesis may reflect cross-regulatory interactions among these genes. Finally, some cells contain a single homeotic product, whereas other cells simultaneously contain several, suggesting that certain cells may be determined by the combinatorial action of homeotic genes.

PMID: 2897943, UI: 88243016

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Development 1991 Feb;111(2):367-78

Interactions of the Drosophila gap gene giant with maternal and zygotic pattern-forming genes.

Eldon ED, Pirrotta V

Department of Cell Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Medical Center, Houston 77030.

The Drosophila gene giant (gt) is a segmentation gene that affects anterior head structures and abdominal segments A5-A7. Immunolocalization of the gt product shows that it is a nuclear protein whose expression is initially activated in an anterior and a posterior domain. Activation of the anterior domain is dependent on the maternal bicoid gradient while activation of the posterior domain requires maternal nanos gene product. Initial expression is not abolished by mutations in any of the zygotic gap genes. By cellular blastoderm, the initial pattern of expression has evolved into one posterior and three anterior stripes of expression. The evolution, position and width of these stripes are dependent on interactions between gt and the other gap genes. In turn, gt activity in these domains affects the expression of the other gap genes. These interactions, typical of the cross-regulation previously observed among gap genes, confirm that gt is a member of the gap gene class whose function is necessary to establish the overall pattern of gap gene expression. After cellular blastoderm, gt protein continues to be expressed in the head region in parts of the maxillary and mandibular segments as well as in the labrum. Expression is never detected in the labial or thoracic segment primordia but persists in certain head structures, including the ring gland, until the end of embryonic development.

PMID: 1716553, UI: 91372136

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Development 1989;107 Suppl:21-9

Segmental polarity and identity in the abdomen of Drosophila is controlled by the relative position of gap gene expression.

Lehmann R, Frohnhofer HG

Max Planck Institut fur Entwicklungsbiologie, Tubingen, West Germany.

The establishment of the segmental pattern in the Drosophila embryo is directed by three sets of maternal genes: the anterior, the terminal and the posterior group of genes. Embryos derived from females mutant for one of the posterior group genes lack abdominal segmentation. This phenotype can be rescued by transplantation of posterior pole plasm into the abdominal region of mutant embryos. We transplanted posterior pole plasma into the middle of embryos mutant either for the posterior, the anterior and posterior, or all three maternal systems and monitored the segmentation pattern as well as the expression of the zygotic gap gene Kruppel in control and injected embryos. We conclude that polarity and identity of the abdominal segments do not depend on the relative concentration of posterior activity but rather on the position of gap gene expression. By changing the pattern of gap gene expression, the orientation of the abdomen can be reversed. These experiments suggest that maternal gene products act in a strictly hierarchical manner. The function of the maternal gene products becomes dispensable once the position of the zygotically expressed gap genes is determined. Subsequently the gap genes will control the pattern of the pair-rule and segment polarity genes.

PMID: 2636137, UI: 90255388

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Nature 1988 Mar 17;332(6161):281-4

Regulation of the Drosophila segmentation gene hunchback by two maternal morphogenetic centres.

Tautz D

Max-Planck Institut fur Entwicklungsbiologie, Arbeitsgruppe Jackle, Tubingen, FRG.

Segmentation in the inset embryo is initiated by maternally provided information, which is stored in the developing oocyte. In Drosophila, the genes necessary for this process have been genetically characterized. The anterior segmented region is organized by the bicoid (bcd) gene product. The posterior segmented region is organized by several interacting gene products, among them the oskar (osk) gene product. The first zygotic group of genes, which are thought to respond to the spatial cues provided by the maternal genes, are the gap genes, whose members include hunchback (hb), Kruppel (Kr) and knirps (kni). To elucidate the role played by the maternal genes in expression of the gap gene hb, antibodies were raised against a fusion protein and were used for the cytological localization of the hb gene product in wild-type and mutant embryos. The hb protein is predominantly located in the nucleus. Its spatial expression includes the formation of an anterior-posterior gradient during the early cleavage stages and a strong zygotic expression in the anterior half of the embryo. Analysis of embryos mutant for the maternal genes affecting the anterior-posterior segmentation pattern shows that the formation of the early gradient is controlled by the osk group of genes, whereas efficient activation of the zygotic anterior expression domain is dependent on bcd activity.

PMID: 2450283, UI: 88156967

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EMBO J 1988 Jan;7(1):205-14

Gap genes define the limits of antennapedia and bithorax gene expression during early development in Drosophila.

Harding K, Levine M

Department of Biological Sciences Fairchild Center, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027.

The maintenance of selective patterns of homeotic gene expression within the Drosophila CNS involves cross-regulatory interactions among the genes of the antennapedia and bithorax complexes (ANT-C and BX-C). Such a mechanism does not appear to be responsible for the establishment of these selective expression patterns during early development. Here we show that mutations in several of the gap genes strongly alter the early patterns of Antp and Abd-B expression. The altered patterns that are observed do not always correlate with simple expectations based on cuticular pattern defects observed in advanced-stage mutants. It appears that the initial patterns of Antp and Abd-B expression involve their differential regulation by a common set of gap genes. We propose that the gap genes are largely responsible for integrating the processes of segmentation and homeosis.

PMID: 2896123, UI: 88196080

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Nature 1989 Sep 28;341(6240):337-40

Kruppel requirement for knirps enhancement reflects overlapping gap gene activities in the Drosophila embryo.

Pankratz MJ, Hoch M, Seifert E, Jackle H

Institut fur Genetik und Mikrobiologie, Munchen, FRG.

Segmental pattern formation in Drosophila proceeds in a hierarchical manner whereby the embryo is stepwise divided into progressively finer regions until it reaches its final metameric form. Maternal genes initiate this process by imparting on the egg a distinct antero-posterior polarity and by directing from the two polar centres the activities of the zygotic genes. The anterior system is strictly dependent on the product of the maternal gene bicoid (bcd), without which all pattern elements in the anterior region of the embryo fail to develop. The posterior system seems to lack such a morphogen. Rather, the known posterior maternal determinants simply define the boundaries within which abdominal segmentation can occur, and the process that actively generates the abdominal body pattern may be entirely due to the interactions between the zygotic genes. The most likely candidates among the zygotic genes that could fulfil the role of initiating the posterior pattern-forming process are the gap genes, as they are the first segmentation genes to be expressed in the embryo. Here we describe the interactions between the gap genes Kruppel (Kr), knirps (kni) and tailless (tll). We show that kni expression is repressed by tll activity, whereas it is directly enhanced by Kr activity. Thus, Kr activity is present throughout the domain of kni expression and forms a long-range protein gradient, which in combination with kni activity is required for abdominal segmentation of the embryo.

PMID: 2797151, UI: 90015118

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