Low stringency genomic library screens with genomic fragments from the sex determination gene doublesex identified the Drosophila secreted cuticle protein 73 (dsc73) gene, which encodes an 852-residue protein with an N-terminal signal sequence. In embryos, dsc73 RNA and protein are expressed to high levels in the epidermal cells that secrete the larval cuticle as well as in other cuticle-secreting tissues such as the trachea and salivary duct. Embryonic expression of dsc73 requires Shavenbaby, a transcription factor regulating cuticle formation. Double-labeling experiments with alphaCrb and alphaSAS reveal that, as with chitin and other known cuticle proteins, Dsc73 is secreted apically. Zygotic loss of dsc73 results in larval lethality but loss does not result in overt patterning defects or overt morphological defects in the embryonic tissues in which it is expressed. Thus, dsc73 encodes a novel secreted protein, and it is conserved within the Drosophila group. dsc73 may serve as a useful embryonic marker for cuticular patterning.
(c) 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.