Homeotic gene function in the muscles of Drosophila larvae

EMBO J. 1986 Sep;5(9):2321-2329.


The segmental musculature of Drosophila melanogaster larvae consists of 24-30 muscles per segment. Unique patterns of muscles are found in the three thoracic segments and the first and last abdominal segments; the remaining abdominal segments share the same pattern. Mutations in Ultrabithorax (Ubx) cause partial transformation of the muscle pattern of larval abdominal segments towards metathorax. The muscles of the thorax are not affected. In the first two abdominal segments the changes include the loss of at least 11 ;abdominal' muscles and the gain of 11 ;thoracic' muscles. Less extensive transformations are seen in more posterior abdominal segments. Anterobithorax, bithorax, postbithorax and bithoraxoid mutations also induce transformations of the larval musculature. Each allelic group affects a domain that is a subset of the entire Ubx domain but these domains are not restricted to compartments or segments and may extend through as many as five segments. In the muscles the segmental distribution of Ubx antigen correlates with the segments affected by Ubx mutations. The different domains of Ubx in mesoderm and ectoderm argue that the segmental diversity of the muscle pattern is not simply induced by the overlying epidermis and that Ubx function in the mesoderm is required for the correct development of abdominal segments.