Homoeotic Genes and the Specification of Segmental Identity in the Embryo and Adult Thorax of Drosophila Melanogaster

  • Thomas C. Kaufman
  • Michael K. Abbott


The homoeotic loci Sex-Combs Reduced (Scr), Antennapedia (Antp), and Ultrabithorax (Ubx), are required early in development to specify the thoracic segmental identities of the embryo. However, each locus also has a later function(s): to maintain specific aspects of thoracic segmental identity through metamorphosis. Antp + primarily specifies mesothoracic (T2) identity while the embryonic prothoracic (T1) and metathoracic (T3) identities are dependent, respectively, upon Scr + and Ubx + and interactions between these loci and Antp +. Since the loss of Scr + and/or Ubx + in combination with the loss of Antp + function results in a transformation of one or more of the thoracic segments to a T1-gnathal identity, Antp + function is at least partially epistatic to that of either Scr + or Ubx + during the establishment of thoracic segmental identities. Somewhat later in development, Scr + and Ubx + are required to maintain the identity of specific regions of either the pro- or metathorax, respectively. By contrast, Antp + functions to maintain the identities of certain regions in all three segments. Loss of this function allows portions of the ventral region of each thoracic segment to become antenna-like. In addition, a loss of identity of a region of the anterior, dorsal-lateral mesothorax also occurs. Taken together, these results indicate that Antp is a complex locus with a central role in the establishment and maintenance of thoracic segmental identities. Differences among the thoracic segments arise through the interaction of Scr and Ubx with Antp.


Thoracic Segment Maxillary Palp Labial Palp Late Embryo Segmental Identity 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas C. Kaufman
    • 1
  • Michael K. Abbott
    • 1
  1. 1.Program in Genetics and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, Department of BiologyIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

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