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Further studies onengrailed mutants inDrosophila melanogaster


In 1975, Morata and Lawrence proposed that theengrailed (en) locus was a selector gene that controlled the different pathways of development followed by anterior and posterior compartments. This hypothesis assumed that the phenotype ofen 1 flies results from partial inactivity of theen + product. However, the mutant phenotype ofen 1/DF(2R)en is weaker thanen 1/en 1. This implies that the partial P→A transformation ofen 1 does not result primarily from reduction inen + activity. Heterozygotes betweenl(2) en alleles andDf(2R)en deletions express a similar phenotype of fused embryonic segments to that described by Nüsslein-Volhard and Wieschaus, and also by Kornberg, forl(2) en homozygoes. By this criterion, the lethal phenotype results from partial or complete lack ofen _ activity. Despite this, the1(2) en alleles give only a weak P→A transformation, whether recovered as embryonic lethals or by failure to complementen 1. They appear to define only one locus and, with the exception ofen 1, the available genetic date suggest that the complementation pattern at this locus is simple. Thus, it is unlikely thatengrailed is the sole determinant of the A/P compartment separation. It might be one of a number of loci that affect the alternative pathways followed by anterior and posterior compartments.

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Gubb, D. Further studies onengrailed mutants inDrosophila melanogaster . Wilhelm Roux' Archiv 194, 236–246 (1985).

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Key words

  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • engrailed
  • Selector gene
  • Genetic complementation