Homeotic selector genes control the patterning of seven-up expressing cells in the Drosophila dorsal vessel

Mech Dev. 2005 Sep;122(9):1023-33. doi: 10.1016/j.mod.2005.04.007.


The linear cardiac tube of Drosophila, the dorsal vessel, is an important model organ for the study of cardiac specification and patterning in vertebrates. In Drosophila, the Hox segmentation gene abdominal-A (abd-A) is required for the specification of a functionally distinct heart region at the posterior of the dorsal vessel, from which blood is pumped anteriorly through a tube termed the aorta. Since we have previously shown that the posterior part of the aorta is specified during embryogenesis to form the adult heart during metamorphosis, we determined if the embryonic aorta is also patterned by the function of Hox segmentation genes. Using gain- and loss-of-function experiments, we demonstrate that the three Hox genes expressed in the posterior aorta and heart are sufficient to confer heart or posterior aorta fate throughout the dorsal vessel. Additionally, we demonstrate that Ultrabithorax and abd-A, but not Antennapedia, function to control cell number in the dorsal vessel. These studies add robustness to the model that homeotic selector genes pattern the Drosophila dorsal vessel, and further extend our understanding of how the cardiac tube is patterned in animal models.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Antennapedia Homeodomain Protein
  • Aorta / embryology
  • Body Patterning / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Drosophila / embryology*
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Genes, Homeobox*
  • Genes, Insect*
  • Heart / embryology*
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Mutation
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics
  • Receptors, Steroid / genetics*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics


  • Abd-A protein, insect
  • Antennapedia Homeodomain Protein
  • Antp protein, Drosophila
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Receptors, Steroid
  • Transcription Factors
  • Ubx protein, Drosophila
  • svp protein, Drosophila