Control of the Initiation of Homeotic Gene Expression by the Gap Genes Giant and Tailless in Drosophila

Dev Biol. 1990 Jul;140(1):57-72. doi: 10.1016/0012-1606(90)90053-l.


The process of segmentation in Drosophila is controlled by both maternal and zygotic genes. Members of the gap class of segmentation genes play a key role in this process by interpreting maternal information and controlling the expression of pair-rule and homeotic genes. We have analyzed the pattern of expression of a variety of homeotic, pair-rule, and gap genes in tailless and giant gap mutants. tailless acts in two domains, one anterodorsal and one posterior. In its anterior domain tailless exerts a repressive effect on the expression of fushi tarazu, hunchback, and Deformed. In its posterior domain of action, tailless is responsible for the establishment of Abdominal-B expression and demarcating the posterior boundary of the initial domain of expression of Ultrabithorax. giant is an early zygotic regulator of the gap gene hunchback: in giant- embryos, alterations in the anterior domain of hunchback expression are visible by the beginning of cycle 14. giant also regulates the establishment of the expression patterns of Antennapedia and Abdominal-B. In particular, giant is the factor that controls the anterior limit of early Antennapedia expression.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cleavage Stage, Ovum / physiology
  • DNA Probes
  • Drosophila / embryology
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Genes, Homeobox*
  • Genes, Regulator / physiology*
  • Microscopy
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • DNA Probes