The precise regulation of wingless (wg) expression in the Drosophila eye disc is key to control the anteroposterior and dorsoventral patterning of this disc. Here, we identify an eye disc-specific wg cis-regulatory element that functions as a regulatory rheostat. Pannier (Pnr), a transcription factor previously proposed to act as an upstream activator of wg, is sufficient to activate the eye disc enhancer but required for wg expression only in the peripodial epithelium of the disc. We propose that this regulation of wg by Pnr appeared associated to the development of the peripodial epithelium in higher dipterans and was added to an existing mechanism regulating the deployment of wingless in the dorsal region of the eye primordium. In addition, our analysis identifies a separate ventral disc enhancer that lies adjacent to the eye-specific one, and thus altogether, they define a 1-kb genomic region where disc-specific enhancers of the wg gene are located.
2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.