Nanos is the localized posterior determinant in Drosophila

Cell. 1991 Aug 23;66(4):637-47. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(91)90110-k.


Segmental pattern in the Drosophila embryo is established by two maternal factors localized to the anterior and posterior poles of the egg cell. Here we provide molecular evidence that the localized posterior factor is the RNA of the nanos (nos) gene. nos RNA is localized to the posterior pole of early embryos, and nos protein acts at a distance to direct abdomen formation. Synthetic nos RNA has biological activity identical to that of the posterior pole plasm. Injection of nos RNA rescues the segmentation defect of embryos derived from females mutant for all nine known posterior group genes. Injection of nos RNA into the anterior is able to direct formation of ectopic posterior structures. Our results demonstrate that a localized source of nos RNA is sufficient to specify abdominal segmentation and imply that other posterior group genes are required for localization, stabilization, or distribution of the nos gene product.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Drosophila Proteins*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / embryology*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Genes
  • Insect Hormones / genetics*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Morphogenesis
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA-Binding Proteins*
  • Restriction Mapping


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Insect Hormones
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • nos protein, Drosophila

Associated data

  • GENBANK/M60962
  • GENBANK/M64383
  • GENBANK/M64384
  • GENBANK/M72421
  • GENBANK/M73548
  • GENBANK/S44812
  • GENBANK/S44816
  • GENBANK/S44821
  • GENBANK/S56137
  • GENBANK/S56139