The Notch pathway plays a key role in the formation of many tissues and cell types in Metazoans. We recently showed that Notch acts in two pathways to determine muscle precursor fates. The first is the "standard" Notch pathway, in which Delta activates the Notch receptor, which then translocates into the nucleus in conjunction with Su(H) to reprogram transcription patterns and bring about changes in cell fates. The second pathway is poorly defined, but known to be independent of the ligands and downstream effectors of the standard pathway. The standard pathway is required in many different developmental contexts and we wondered if there was also a general requirement for the novel pathway. Here we show that the novel Notch pathway is required for the development of each of five examined cell types. These results indicate that the novel pathway is a widespread and fundamental component of Notch function. We further show that both Notch pathways operate in the differentiation of the same cell types. In such cases, the novel pathway acts first and appears to set up or limit the size of equivalence groups. The standard pathway then acts within the equivalence groups to limit individual cell fates.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.