Regulation of the Drosophila distal antennal determinant spineless

Richard B. Emmons, Dianne Duncan, Ian Duncan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The transformation of antenna to leg is a classical model for understanding segmental fate decisions in Drosophila. The spineless (ss) gene encodes a bHLH-PAS transcription factor that plays a key role in specifying the identity of distal antennal segments. In this report, we identify the antennal disc enhancer of ss and then use enhancer-lacZ reporters to work out how ss antennal expression is regulated. The antennal determinants Distal-less (Dll) and homothorax (hth) are key activators of the antennal enhancer. Dll is required continuously and, when present at elevated levels, can activate the enhancer in regions devoid of hth expression. In contrast, homothorax (hth) is required only transiently both for activation of the enhancer and for specification of the aristal portion of the antenna. The antennal enhancer is repressed by cut, which determines its proximal limit of expression, and by ectopic Antennapedia (Antp). Repression by Antp is not mediated by hth, suggesting that ss may be a direct target of Antp. Finally, we show that ss+ is not a purely passive target of its regulators: ss+ partially represses hth in the third antennal segment and lies upstream of Dll in the development of the maxillary palp primordia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)412-426
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 15 2007


  • Antenna
  • Antp
  • Aryl hydrocarbon receptor
  • Dioxin receptor
  • Distal-less
  • Drosophila
  • aristapedia
  • cut
  • homothorax
  • spineless


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