Specific expression and function of the Six3 optix in Drosophila serially homologous organs

Biol Open. 2017 Aug 15;6(8):1155-1164. doi: 10.1242/bio.023606.


Organ size and pattern results from the integration of two positional information systems. One global information system, encoded by the Hox genes, links organ type with position along the main body axis. Within specific organs, local information is conveyed by signaling molecules that regulate organ growth and pattern. The mesothoracic (T2) wing and the metathoracic (T3) haltere of Drosophila represent a paradigmatic example of this coordination. The Hox gene Ultrabithorax (Ubx), expressed in the developing T3, selects haltere identity by, among other processes, modulating the production and signaling efficiency of Dpp, a BMP2-like molecule that acts as a major regulator of size and pattern. However, the mechanisms of the Hox-signal integration in this well-studied system are incomplete. Here, we have investigated this issue by studying the expression and function of the Six3 transcription factor optix during Drosophila wing and haltere development. We find that in both organs, Dpp defines the expression domain of optix through repression, and that the specific position of this domain in wing and haltere seems to reflect the differential signaling profile among these organs. We show that optix expression in wing and haltere primordia is conserved beyond Drosophila in other higher diptera. In Drosophila, optix is necessary for the growth of wing and haltere. In the wing, optix is required for the growth of the most anterior/proximal region (the 'marginal cell') and for the correct formation of sensory structures along the proximal anterior wing margin; the halteres of optix mutants are also significantly reduced. In addition, in the haltere, optix is necessary for the suppression of sensory bristles.

Keywords: Dpp signaling; Drosophila; Haltere; Imaginal disc; Optix; Six3; Wing.