The angle of the dorsoventral axis with respect to the anteroposterior axis in the Drosophila embryo is controlled by the distribution of gurken mRNA in the oocyte

Mech Dev. 1995 Jan;49(1-2):97-106. doi: 10.1016/0925-4773(94)00306-8.


Like most organisms, Drosophila embryos develop in relation to two orthogonal axes, the anteroposterior and dorsoventral. These two axes are established by four independent systems of maternal information. Mutations in any system disrupt either the anteroposterior or the dorsoventral patterning of the embryo but never affect the orthogonal orientation of the axes relative to each other. Here we show by analyzing their embryonic fate map, that K10 embryos still possess a dorsoventral polarity. However, instead of forming a 90 degrees angle, the dorsoventral and the anteroposterior axes lie parallel to each other. This axis misorientation was partially corrected by decreasing the wild-type grk gene copy number such that the embryos issued from K10/K10; grk/+ females showed a variability in their fate map which could be interpreted as a progressive rotation of dorsoventral axis relative to the unmodified anteroposterior axis. This rotation is maximal in the K10 embryos where it reaches 90 degrees and results in the congruence of the two axes. The alteration of the embryonic fate map could be traced back to oogenesis where it was shown to correlate with the mislocalization of the grk transcripts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blastoderm / metabolism*
  • Cell Polarity / genetics
  • Drosophila / embryology*
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / metabolism
  • Morphogenesis / genetics
  • Mutation
  • Oocytes / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*


  • RNA, Messenger