An F1 Genetic Screen for Maternal-Effect Mutations Affecting Embryonic Pattern Formation in Drosophila Melanogaster

Genetics. 2004 May;167(1):325-42. doi: 10.1534/genetics.167.1.325.


Large-scale screens for female-sterile mutations have revealed genes required maternally for establishment of the body axes in the Drosophila embryo. Although it is likely that the majority of components involved in axis formation have been identified by this approach, certain genes have escaped detection. This may be due to (1) incomplete saturation of the screens for female-sterile mutations and (2) genes with essential functions in zygotic development that mutate to lethality, precluding their identification as female-sterile mutations. To overcome these limitations, we performed a genetic mosaic screen aimed at identifying new maternal genes required for early embryonic patterning, including zygotically required ones. Using the Flp-FRT technique and a visible germline clone marker, we developed a system that allows efficient screening for maternal-effect phenotypes after only one generation of breeding, rather than after the three generations required for classic female-sterile screens. We identified 232 mutants showing various defects in embryonic pattern or morphogenesis. The mutants were ordered into 10 different phenotypic classes. A total of 174 mutants were assigned to 86 complementation groups with two alleles on average. Mutations in 45 complementation groups represent most previously known maternal genes, while 41 complementation groups represent new loci, including several involved in dorsoventral, anterior-posterior, and terminal patterning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Patterning
  • Chromosomes / metabolism
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • Drosophila melanogaster / embryology*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Embryonic Development
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genes, Insect
  • Genetic Techniques*
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Infertility, Female / genetics
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Models, Genetic
  • Mothers
  • Mutagenesis
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Mutation*
  • Phenotype


  • Green Fluorescent Proteins