The Hox gene Dfd controls organogenesis by shaping territorial border through regulation of basal DE-Cadherin distribution

Dev Biol. 2015 Sep 15;405(2):183-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2015.07.020. Epub 2015 Jul 20.


Hox genes are highly conserved selector genes controlling tissue identity and organogenesis. Recent work indicates that Hox genes also controls cell segregation and segmental boundary in various species, however the underlying cellular mechanisms involved in this function are poorly understood. In Drosophila melanogaster, the Hox gene Deformed (Dfd) is required for specification and organogenesis of the adult Maxillary (Mx) palp. Here, we demonstrate that differential Dfd expression control Mx morphogenesis through the formation of a physical boundary separating the Mx field and the Peripodial Epithelium (PE). We show that this boundary relies on DE-cadherin (DE-cad) basal accumulation in Mx cells controlled by differential Dfd expression. Indeed, Dfd controls boundary formation through cell autonomous basal redistribution of DE-cad which leads to subsequent fold at the Dfd expression border. Finally, the loss of Mx DE-cad basal accumulation and hence of Mx-PE folding is sufficient to prevent Mx organogenesis thus revealing the crucial role of boundaries in organ differentiation. Altogether, these results reveal that Hox coordination of tissue morphogenesis relies on boundary fold formation through the modulation of DE-cad positioning.

Keywords: Boundaries; DE-Cadherin; Drosophila; Hox; Maxillary; Morphogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Cadherins / metabolism*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism*
  • Epithelium / embryology
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism*
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Maxilla / embryology
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Mitosis
  • Organogenesis
  • Protein Folding
  • RNA Interference


  • Actins
  • Cadherins
  • Dfd protein, Drosophila
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins