Mutations affecting the pattern of the larval cuticle in Drosophila melanogaster - III. Zygotic loci on the X-chromosome and fourth chromosome

E. Wieschaus, C. Nüsslein-Volhard, Gerd Jürgens

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465 Scopus citations


In order to identify X-chromosomal genes required in Drosophila for early patterning and morphogenesis, we examined embryos hemizygous for EMS-induced lethal mutations to determine which of those mutations cause gross morphological defects. Embryos from 2711 lethal lines, corresponding to 3255 lethal point mutations were studied. Only 21% caused death during embryogenesis and of these, only one-sixth, or 3% of the total lethals, were associated with defects visible in the final cuticle pattern. Of the 114 point mutants causing visible cuticle defects, 76 could be assigned to 14 complementation groups. An additional 25 mutations mapping to regions of the X-chromosome not covered by male fertile duplications were assigned to six complementation groups based on similarities of map position and phenotype. Thirteen mutations could not be assigned to complementation groups. All mutations allowed normal development through the cellular blastoderm stage, the first defects associated with the earliest acting loci being observed shortly after the onset of gastrulation. The phenotypes of the various loci range from alterations in segment pattern or early morphogenetic movements to defects in final pigmentation and denticle morphology. Cuticle preparations were also examined for 63 deletions spanning in total 74% of the X-chromosome, as well as for 8 deletions and point mutations derived in saturation mutagenesis screens of the fourth chromosome (Hochman 1976). With the exception of defects in head morphology and defects in cuticle differentiation, none of the hemizygous deletions showed phenotypes other than those predicted by point mutations known to lie in those regions. No deletion caused new or unknown alterations in gastrulation, segmentation or cuticle pattern.These results suggest that the number of genes required zygotically for normal embryonic patterning is small and that most, if not all such loci, are represented by point mutations in our collection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)296-307
Number of pages12
JournalWilhelm Roux's Archives of Developmental Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1984

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental Biology


  • Drosophila
  • Embryonic lethal mutations
  • Larval cuticle
  • Pattern formation


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