cato encodes a basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor implicated in the correct differentiation of Drosophila sense organs

Dev Biol. 2000 May 1;221(1):120-31. doi: 10.1006/dbio.2000.9677.


In Drosophila neurogenesis, proneural genes encode bHLH proteins that are required for neural precursor selection. But many vertebrate homologues are expressed later and are postulated to have multiple roles during neurogenesis. We have isolated a new Drosophila gene, cato, which encodes a protein with a bHLH domain that is closely related to that of the proneural protein Atonal. cato expression is restricted to the developing PNS, where it is expressed in between the stages of precursor selection and terminal differentiation (and therefore later than the proneural genes). We present evidence from loss-of-function and misexpression experiments that cato is involved in sensory neurone morphology. Moreover, in prospero mutants, in which axon and dendrite outgrowth is defective, cato is strongly derepressed in the developing CNS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / chemistry
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila / embryology*
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Helix-Loop-Helix Motifs / genetics
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Insect Proteins / chemistry
  • Insect Proteins / genetics*
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Nervous System / embryology
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics
  • Phenotype
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Sense Organs / embryology*
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Transcription Factors / chemistry
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*


  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Insect Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Transcription Factors
  • ato protein, Drosophila
  • cato protein, Drosophila
  • pros protein, Drosophila