Drosophila tyrosine hydroxylase (DTH) is a key enzyme in dopamine (DA) biosynthesis, which is expressed in neural and hypodermal DA-synthesizing cells. We previously reported that two DTH isoforms are produced in flies through tissue-specific alternative splicing that show distinct regulatory properties. We have now selectively expressed each DTH isoform in vivo in a pale (ple, i.e., DTH-deficient) mutant background. We show that the embryonic lethality of ple can be rescued by expression of the hypodermal, but not the neural, DTH isoform in all DA cells, indicating that the hypoderm- isoform is absolutely required for cuticle biosynthesis and survival in Drosophila. In addition, we report new observations on the consequences of DTH overexpression in the CNS and hypoderm. Our results provide evidence that tissue-specific alternative splicing of the DTH gene is a vital process in Drosophila development.
Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.