Molecular Basis of Transabdominal—A Sexually Dimorphic Mutant of the Bithorax Complex of Drosophila

(cis regulation/macromutation/homeotic/Abdominal B/evolution)
  • Susan E. Celniker
  • E. B. Lewis


Transabdominal (Tab) is a dominant gain-of-function mutation that results in islands of sexually dimorphic abdominal cuticle in the dorsal thorax of the adult fly. This phenotype has complete penetrance and constant expressivity, and we show that it results from ectopic expression of ABD-BII, one of two proteins derived from the Abdominal B (Abd-B) domain of the bithorax complex (BX-C) and one that is normally expressed only in terminal portions of the abdomen. In Tab/+ animals ABD-BII is ectopically expressed in the relevant imaginal “wing” disc as three islands of cells whose location on the fate map corresponds to the three islands of transformed cuticle in each half of the adult thorax. Tab is associated with an inseparable inversion bringing sequences in 90E next to sequences in the transcription unit encoding ABD-BII in 89E. That 90E sequences drive ectopic expression of ABD-BII is indicated by our finding that such sequences in a P-element transformant express the reporter gene’s product (β-galactosidase) in the same three islands of wing disc cells. On morphological grounds, the transformed islands in the adult thorax correspond to subsets of muscle attachment cells. Ectopic expression of a homeodomain protein thus creates a unique and invariant pattern of sexual dimorphism.


Disc Cell Bithorax Complex Dorsal Thorax Posterior Abdomen Adult Thorax 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan E. Celniker
    • 1
  • E. B. Lewis
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of BiologyCalifornia Institute of TechnologyPasadenaUSA

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