The Genetics of Axis Specification in Drosophila

In the cells transcribing the wingless gene, wingless mRNA is translocated by its 3′ UTR to the apex of the cell (Simmonds et al. 2001; Wilkie and Davis 2001). At the apex, the wingless message is translated and secreted from the cell. The cells expressing engrailed can bind this protein because they contain Frizzled, which is the Drosophila membrane receptor protein for Wingless (Bhanot et al. 1996). Binding of Wingless to Frizzled activates the Wnt signal transduction pathway, resulting in the continued expression of engrailed (Siegfried et al. 1994). In this way, the transcription pattern of these two types of cells is stabilized. This interaction creates a stable boundary, as well as a signaling center from which Hedgehog and Wingless proteins diffuse across the parasegment.

Literature Cited

Bhanot, P. and 8 others. 1996. A new member of the Frizzled family fromDrosophilafunctions as a Wingless receptor.Nature382: 225–230.
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Siegfried, E., E. L. Wilder and N. Perrimon. 1994. Components of Wingless signalling inDrosophila.Nature367: 76–80.
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Simmonds, A. J., G. dosSantos, I. Livne-Bar and H. M. Krause. 2001. Apical localization ofwinglesstranscripts is required for Wingless signaling.Cell105: 197–207.
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Wilkie, G. S. and I. Davis. 2001.Drosophilawinglessand pair-rule transcripts localize apically by dynein-mediated transport of RNA particles.Cell105: 209–219.
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