The large Maf factor Traffic Jam controls gonad morphogenesis in Drosophila

Nat Cell Biol. 2003 Nov;5(11):994-1000. doi: 10.1038/ncb1058. Epub 2003 Oct 26.


Interactions between somatic and germline cells are critical for the normal development of egg and sperm. Here we show that the gene traffic jam (tj) produces a soma-specific factor that controls gonad morphogenesis and is required for female and male fertility. tj encodes the only large Maf factor in Drosophila melanogaster, an orthologue of the atypical basic Leu zipper transcription factors c-Maf and MafB/Kreisler in vertebrates. Expression of tj occurs in somatic gonadal cells that are in direct contact with germline cells throughout development. In tj mutant gonads, somatic cells fail to inter-mingle and properly envelop germline cells, causing an early block in germ cell differentiation. In addition, tj mutant somatic cells show an increase in the level of expression for several adhesion molecules. We propose that tj is a critical modulator of the adhesive properties of somatic cells, facilitating germline-soma interactions that are essential for germ cell differentiation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Body Patterning / physiology*
  • DNA Primers
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / chemistry
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • Drosophila Proteins / chemistry
  • Drosophila Proteins / physiology*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / embryology
  • Female
  • Germ Cells
  • Gonads / embryology*
  • Maf Transcription Factors, Large
  • Male
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Morphogenesis
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / chemistry
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / physiology*
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid


  • DNA Primers
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Maf Transcription Factors, Large
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • tj protein, Drosophila

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AY325814