Similarities between trunk and spätzle, putative extracellular ligands specifying body pattern in Drosophila

Genes Dev. 1995 Oct 15;9(20):2539-44. doi: 10.1101/gad.9.20.2539.


The basic body plan of Drosophila is specified by four determinant systems that organize pattern along the anteroposterior and dorsoventral axes. Two of these systems (anterior and posterior) depend on localized mRNAs. In contrast, the other two (ventral and terminal) require locally generated extracellular ligands that are transduced, respectively, by the transmembrane receptors Toll and torso (tor). The ligand for the Toll receptor is thought to be spätzle (spz), a secreted protein that is activated by proteolytic cleavage. Here we report that trunk (trk), a gene required for activity of the tor receptor, encodes a protein that resembles spz in several respects. In particular, the sequence suggests that trk is a secreted protein and that it contains an internal site for proteolytic cleavage. Furthermore, the carboxy-terminal domain of trk has a similar arrangement of cysteines to that of spz. We propose that trk encodes an extracellular ligand involved in specifying terminal body pattern and suggest by analogy with spz that a cleaved form of trk constitutes the ligand for the tor receptor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA, Complementary
  • Drosophila / anatomy & histology
  • Drosophila / embryology*
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins*
  • Extracellular Space / metabolism*
  • Genes, Insect*
  • Insect Hormones / genetics*
  • Insect Hormones / metabolism
  • Insect Proteins*
  • Ligands
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Proteins / chemistry
  • Proteins / genetics*
  • Proteins / metabolism
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid


  • DNA, Complementary
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Insect Hormones
  • Insect Proteins
  • Ligands
  • Proteins
  • spz protein, Drosophila
  • trk protein, Drosophila

Associated data

  • GENBANK/U41064