Temporal regulation of single-minded target genes in the ventral midline of the Drosophila central nervous system

Joung Woo Hong, Kye Won Park, Michael S. Levine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Differentiation of a specific organ or tissue requires sequential activation of regulatory genes. However, little is known about how serial gene expression is temporally regulated. Here, we present evidence that differential expression of single-minded (sim) target genes can be attributed, in part, to the number of Sim and Tango (Tgo) heterodimer binding sites within their enhancer regions. The Sim, termed a master regulator, directs ventral midline differentiation of Drosophila central nervous system (CNS). According to data on the onset timing of ventral midline gene expression, sim target genes are classified into at least 2 groups (early and late). The sim and rhomboid (rho) genes are activated during early midline differentiation whereas orthodenticle (otd), CG10249, and slit (sli) genes undergo activation during later stages of midline differentiation. Germline transformation and in situ hybridization with transgenic embryos demonstrate that enhancers activating sim and rho expression contain 4 Sim-Tgo binding sites whereas only 1 Sim-Tgo binding site is found in an enhancer of sli. A mutagenized version of the rho enhancer lacking either 1, 2, or 3 Sim-Tgo binding sites mediated progressively more delayed expression of a lacZ reporter gene in the ventral midline. In contrast, a modified sli enhancer displayed progressively earlier onset of lacZ expression when 1, 2, or 3 more Sim-Tgo binding sites were added. Taken together, these results suggest that the number of Sim-Tgo-binding sites is decisive in determining the timing of gene expression in the developing ventral midline. We also discuss a combinatorial model accounting for the sequential expression of sim target genes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)335-343
Number of pages9
JournalDevelopmental biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 15 2013
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology
  • Developmental Biology


  • Drosophila
  • Embryo
  • Single-minded
  • Temporal regulation
  • Ventral midline


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