The Drosophila homeobox gene tinman plays a critical role in subdividing the early mesoderm. In particular, tinman is absolutely required for formation of the heart and visceral mesoderm. tinman expression is initiated throughout the mesoderm of the trunk region under the control of the bHLH transcription factor encoded by the twist gene, a determinant of all mesoderm. Later, tinman expression is restricted to the dorsal portion of the mesoderm, a process that is directed by decapentaplegic (dpp) whose product (a TGF-beta-related protein) is secreted by the overlaying ectoderm. Further restriction of tinman expression to the cardiac progenitors, in which it will persist throughout development, involves the secreted segmentation gene product encoded by wingless (wg, a Drosophila Wnt gene). Here, we show that strong early expression depends on the synergistic action of an enhancer element at the 5' end of the gene in conjunction with an element in the first intron. Moreover, two distinct enhancer regions are responsible for tinman expression in the heart: one region confers expression in the heart-tube-associated pericardial cells, the other element drives expression in the contractile, myocardial cells. The latter element contains two CREB consensus binding sites that are essential for cardiac-specific expression. genesis 26:55-66, 2000.
Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.