Dose-dependent regulation of pair-rule stripes by gap proteins and the initiation of segment polarity

Rahul Warrior, Michael Levine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


A key step in Drosophila segmentation is the establishment of periodic patterns of pair-rule gene expression in response to gap gene products. From an examination of the distribution of gap and pair-rule proteins in various mutants, we conclude that the on/off periodicity of pair-rule stripes depends on both the exact concentrations and combinations of gap proteins expressed in different embryonic cells. It has been suggested that the distribution of gap gene products depends on cross-regulatory interactions among these genes. Here we provide evidence that autoregulation also plays an important role in this process since there is a reduction in the levels of Kruppel (Kr) RNA and protein in a Kr null mutant. Once initiated by the gap genes each pair-rule stripe is bell shaped and has ill-defined margins. By the end of the fourteenth nuclear division cycle, the stripes of the pair-rule gene even-skipped (eve) sharpen and polarize, a process that is essential for the precisely localized expression of segment polarity genes. This sharpening process appears to depend on a threshold response of the eve promoter to the combinatorial action of eve and a second pair-rule gene hairy. The eve and hairy expression patterns overlap but are out of register and the cells of maximal overlap form the anterior margin of the polarized eve stripe. We propose that the relative placement of the eve and hairy stripes may be an important factor in the initiation of segment polarity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)759-767
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1990
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology


  • Dose-dependent regulation
  • Drosophila
  • Eve
  • Gap protein
  • Hairy
  • Kruppel
  • Pair-rule gene expression
  • Pattern formation
  • Segment polarity


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