Differing strategies for organizing anterior and posterior body pattern in Drosophila embryos

Nature. 1989 Apr 27;338(6218):741-4. doi: 10.1038/338741a0.


Opposing anterior and posterior morphogen systems specify the segmented body pattern of Drosophila. The anterior morphogen, bicoid, exerts a direct, instructive influence on head and thoracic pattern by triggering different outcomes according to changes in its concentration along the body. In contrast, the posterior morphogen, nanos, simply defines where abdominal patterning can occur by eliminating an otherwise ubiquitous repressor, hunchback protein, from the posterior half of the embryo. Within this hunchback-free domain the pattern of abdominal segments must be specified by other morphogens, possibly by shorter range gradients of the products of zygotic gap genes Kruppel, knirps and tailless.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila / embryology*
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Larva / anatomy & histology
  • Morphogenesis
  • Mutation
  • Phenotype
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics*
  • Repressor Proteins / physiology
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*


  • Repressor Proteins
  • Transcription Factors