The extramacrochaetae gene provides information for sensory organ patterning

EMBO J. 1992 Sep;11(9):3385-93.


The Drosophila adult epidermis displays a stereotyped pattern of bristles and other types of sensory organs (SOs). Its generation requires the proneural achaete (ac) and scute (sc) genes. In the imaginal wing disc, the anlage for most of the thoracic and wing epidermis, their products accumulate in groups of cells, the proneural clusters, whose distribution prefigures the adult pattern of SOs. These proteins then induce the emergence of SO mother cells (SMCs). Here, we show that the extramacrochaetae (emc) gene, an antagonist of the proneural function, is another agent that contributes to SO positioning. In the wing disc, emc is expressed in a complex and evolving pattern. SMCs appear not only within proneural clusters but also within minima of emc expression. When one of these spatial restrictions is eliminated, by ubiquitously expressing ac-sc, SMCs still emerge within minima of emc. When in addition, the other spatial restriction is reduced by decreasing emc expression, many ectopic SMCs emerge in a relatively even spaced and less constant pattern. Thus, the heterogeneous distribution of the emc product is one of the elements that define the positions where SMCs arise. emc probably refines SMC (and SO) positioning by reducing both the size of proneural clusters and the number of cells within clusters that can become SMCs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • Cell Differentiation
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / physiology
  • Drosophila / embryology
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Drosophila Proteins*
  • Epidermis / embryology
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Mutation
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Repressor Proteins*
  • Sense Organs / embryology*
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Wings, Animal / embryology


  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Repressor Proteins
  • emc protein, Drosophila