Genetic Mosaic Analysis of Decapentaplegic and Wingless Gene Function in the Drosophila Leg

Dev Genes Evol. 1996 Nov;206(3):180-94. doi: 10.1007/s004270050044.

Abstract

Genetically mosaic flies were constructed which lack a functional decapentaplegic (dpp) or wingless (wg) gene in portions of their leg epidermis, and the leg cuticle was examined for defects. Although dpp has previously been shown to be transcribed both ventrally and dorsally, virtually the only dpp-null clones that affect leg anatomy are those which reside dorsally. Conversely, wg-null clones only cause leg defects when they reside ventrally - a result that was expected, given that wg is only expressed ventrally. Both findings are consistent with models of leg development in which the future tip of the leg is specified by an interaction between dpp and wg at the center of the leg disc. Null clones can cause mirror-image cuticular duplications confined to individual leg segments. Double-ventral, mirror-image patterns are observed with dpp-null clones, and double-dorsal patterns with wg-null clones. Clones that are doubly mutant (null for both dpp and wg) manifest reduced frequencies for both types of duplications. Duplications can include cells from surrounding non-mutant territory. Such nonautonomy implies that both dpp and wg are involved in positional signaling, not merely in the maintenance of cellular identities. However, neither gene product appears to function as a morphogen for the entire leg disc, since the effects of each gene's null clones are restricted to a discrete part of the circumference. Interestingly, the circumferential domains where dpp and wg are needed are complementary to one another.