A genetic screen in Drosophila for genes interacting with senseless during neuronal development identifies the importin moleskin

Genetics. 2007 Jan;175(1):125-41. doi: 10.1534/genetics.106.065680. Epub 2006 Nov 16.


Senseless (Sens) is a conserved transcription factor required for normal development of the Drosophila peripheral nervous system. In the Drosophila retina, sens is necessary and sufficient for differentiation of R8 photoreceptors and interommatidial bristles (IOBs). When Sens is expressed in undifferentiated cells posterior to the morphogenetic furrow, ectopic IOBs are formed. This phenotype was used to identify new members of the sens pathway in a dominant modifier screen. Seven suppressor and three enhancer complementation groups were isolated. Three groups from the screen are the known genes Delta, lilliputian, and moleskin/DIM-7 (msk), while the remaining seven groups represent novel genes with previously undefined functions in neural development. The nuclear import gene msk was identified as a potent suppressor of the ectopic interommatidial bristle phenotype. In addition, msk mutant adult eyes are extremely disrupted with defects in multiple cell types. Reminiscent of the sens mutant phenotype, msk eyes demonstrate reductions in the number of R8 photoreceptors due to an R8 to R2,5 fate switch, providing genetic evidence that Msk is a component of the sens pathway. Interestingly, in msk tissue, the loss of R8 fate occurs earlier than with sens and suggests a previously unidentified stage of R8 development between atonal and sens.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cilia
  • Drosophila Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / growth & development
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism
  • Enhancer Elements, Genetic
  • Eye / growth & development*
  • Eye / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Genetic Testing*
  • Karyopherins / genetics
  • Karyopherins / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism*
  • Phenotype
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Invertebrate / metabolism
  • Retina / growth & development*
  • Retina / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Karyopherins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • sens protein, Drosophila