decapentaplegic overexpression affects Drosophila wing and leg imaginal disc development and wingless expression

Dev Biol. 1996 Jul 10;177(1):136-51. doi: 10.1006/dbio.1996.0151.


We have used the GAL4-UAS expression system to increase the level of expression of the Drosophila gene decapentaplegic (dpp) in a pattern approximating its normal pattern in leg and wing imaginal discs. Intermediate increases of dpp expression have little effect in wing discs but high levels of dpp overexpression lead to reduction of the scutellum and duplication of posterior wing structures. In leg discs intermediate increases cause supernumerary outgrowths of ventral leg structures in the anterior-ventral region. Greater increases of dpp expression cause the loss of ventral leg structures with the concomitant fusion of left and right dorsal forelegs. The defects observed in both legs and wings appear to arise through dose-dependent effects of dpp on wingless (wg) expression. A high level of dpp overexpression in the wing disc causes reduction of wg expression in the presumptive scutellar region, consistent with the subsequent reduction of the scutellum. An intermediate increase of dpp expression in leg discs induces the expansion of wg expression into the ventral outgrowths. At higher dpp expression levels, ventral wg expression in leg discs is eliminated, consistent with the loss of ventral leg cuticle. In the leg disc end knob and in the wing margin primordium, where wg and dpp cooperate in producing distal outgrowth, dpp overexpression has no detectable effect either on patterning or on wg expression. We propose that a critical role for dpp in other regions of the leg and wing discs is to reduce or block the expression of wg. This role of dpp is supported by the observation that ectopic wg expression is detected in imaginal discs where dpp signaling is compromised by lowering the activity of one of its receptors, tkv. This antagonism between dpp and wg expression may be critical to assigning only one disc region as the distal organizer.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila / embryology*
  • Drosophila Proteins*
  • Extremities / embryology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Insect Hormones / analysis
  • Insect Hormones / genetics*
  • Phenotype
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics*
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / genetics
  • Temperature
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / analysis
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / genetics*
  • Wings, Animal / embryology*
  • Wnt1 Protein


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Insect Hormones
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Wnt1 Protein
  • dpp protein, Drosophila
  • wg protein, Drosophila
  • tkv protein, Drosophila
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases