Molecular basis for the inhibition of Drosophila eye development by Antennapedia

EMBO J. 2001 Feb 15;20(4):802-11. doi: 10.1093/emboj/20.4.802.


Hox genes encoding homeodomain transcriptional regulators are known to specify the body plan of multicellular organisms and are able to induce body plan transformations when misexpressed. These findings led to the hypothesis that duplication events and misexpression of Hox genes during evolution have been necessary for generating the observed morphological diversity found in metazoans. It is known that overexpressing Antennapedia (Antp) in the head induces antenna-to-leg as well as head-to-thorax transformation and eye reduction. At present, little is known about the exact molecular mechanism causing these phenotypes. The aim of this study is to understand the basis of inhibition of eye development. We demonstrate that Antp represses the activity of the eye regulatory cascade. By ectopic expression, we show that Antp antagonizes the activity of the eye selector gene eyeless. Using both in vitro and in vivo experiments, we demonstrate that this inhibitory mechanism involves direct protein-protein interactions between the DNA-binding domains of EY and ANTP, resulting in mutual inhibition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antennapedia Homeodomain Protein
  • Apoptosis
  • Drosophila / embryology*
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Embryonic Development
  • Eye / cytology
  • Eye / embryology*
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism
  • Homeodomain Proteins / physiology*
  • Nuclear Proteins*
  • Protein Binding
  • Transcription Factors*


  • Antennapedia Homeodomain Protein
  • Antp protein, Drosophila
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Transcription Factors