Maternal regulation of zerknüllt: A homoeobox gene controlling differentiation of dorsal tissues in Drosophila

Christine Rushlow, Manfred Frasch, Helen Doyle, Michael Levine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Scopus citations


The homoeobox gene zerknüllt (zen) plays an important role in the differentiation of dorsal tissues during Drosophila development1,2. zen- embryos show transformations in the dorsal-most regions of the fate map, and lack several tissues that normally derive from these regions, including the amnioserosa and optic lobe1. zen displays a simple dorsal on/ventral off pattern as early as cleavage cycle 10-11 (ref. 2). We have prepared a polyclonal antibody against a full-length zen protein, and used this to examine its pattern of expression in mutants that disrupt dorsal-ventral polarity. Most or all of the maternally expressed genes that are involved in this process have been previously identified and fall into two classes, so called 'dorsalizers' and 'ventralizers' (see refs 4-7, reviewed in ref. 8). On the basis of our analysis of zen expression in each of these maternal mutants we propose that one or more of the dorsalizing genes encodes a represser which inhibits the expression of zen in ventral regions of developing embryos. The ventralizing gene cactus7 might play an important role in restricting the activity of this represser to ventral regions, thereby permitting the activation of zen in those dorsal tissues where its function is critically required.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)583-586
Number of pages4
Issue number6148
StatePublished - 1987
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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