An anteroposterior dorsal gradient in the Drosophila embryo

Audrey M. Huang, Jannette Rusch, Michael Levine

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56 Scopus citations


Dorsoventral (DV) patterning of the Drosophila embryo is initiated by a broad Dorsal (Dl) nuclear gradient, which is regulated by a conserved signaling pathway that includes the Toll receptor and Pelle kinase. We investigate the consequences of expressing a constitutively activated form of the Toll receptor, Toll10b, in anterior regions of the early embryo using the bicoid 3' UTR. Localized Toll10b products result in the formation of an ectopic, anteroposterior (AP) D1 nuclear gradient along the length of the embryo. The analysis of both authentic dorsal target genes and defined synthetic promoters suggests that the ectopic gradient is sufficient to generate the full repertory of DV patterning responses along the AP axis of the embryo. For example, mesoderm determinants are activated in the anterior third of the embryo, whereas neurogenic genes are expressed in central regions. These results raise the possibility that Toll signaling components diffuse in the plasma membrane or syncytial cytoplasm of the early embryo. This study also provides evidence that neurogenic repressors may be important for the establishment of the sharp mesoderm/neuroectoderm boundary in the early embryo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1963-1973
Number of pages11
JournalGenes and Development
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 1 1997
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology


  • AP dorsal gradient
  • Dorsoventral patterning
  • Drosophila embryo
  • Gradient thresholds
  • Toll receptor


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