Determination of spatial domains of zygotic gene expression in the Drosophila embryo by the affinity of binding sites for the bicoid morphogen

Nature. 1989 Aug 3;340(6232):363-7. doi: 10.1038/340363a0.


The maternal gene bicoid is a key component of the system that determines the pattern of the anterior half of Drosophila embryos. The bicoid protein forms a concentration gradient in early embryos, and is known to bind DNA. Specific binding sites are now shown to confer expression in a region of the embryo that depends on their affinity for bicoid protein: sites of high affinity allow expression further down the bicoid protein gradient than sites of low affinity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • DNA / metabolism*
  • Drosophila / embryology
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins*
  • Insect Hormones / genetics*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Regulatory Sequences, Nucleic Acid
  • Trans-Activators*
  • Zygote / metabolism*
  • beta-Galactosidase / genetics


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Insect Hormones
  • Trans-Activators
  • bcd protein, Drosophila
  • DNA
  • beta-Galactosidase