Direct control of antennal identity by the spineless-aristapedia gene of Drosophila

Elizabeth A. Burgess, Ian Duncan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Loss-of-function mutations in the spineless-aristapedia gene of Drosophila (ssa mutants) cause transformations of the distal antenna to distal second leg, deletions or fusions of the tarsi from all three legs, a general reduction in bristle size, and sterility. Because ssa mutants are pleiotropic, it has been suggested that ss+ has some rather general function and that the ssa antennal transformation is an indirect consequence of perturbations in the expression of other genes that more directly control antennal or second leg identity. Here we test whether the ssa transformation results from aberrant expression of Antennapedia (Antp), a homeotic gene thought to specify directly the identity of the second thoracic segment. We find that Antp-ssa mitotic recombination clones in the distal antenna behave identically to Antp+ssa clones, and are transformed to second leg. This demonstrates that the ssa antennal transformation is independent of Antp+, and suggests that ss+ may itself directly define distal antennal identity. The results also reveal that Antp+ is not required for the development of distal second leg structures, as these develop apparently normally in Antp-ssa antennal clones. Because Antp- mutations cause deletions or transformations that are restricted to proximal structures, whereas ssa alleles cause similar defects that are distally restricted, we suggest that ss+ and Antp+ may play similar, but complementary, roles in the distal and proximal portions of appendages, respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-352
Number of pages6
JournalMGG Molecular & General Genetics
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1990


  • Antennapedia
  • Drosophila
  • Homeosis
  • Segmentation
  • Spineless-aristapedia


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