Senseless acts as a binary switch during sensory organ precursor selection

Hamed Jafar-Nejad, Melih Acar, Riitta Nolo, Haluk Lacin, Hongling Pan, Susan M. Parkhurst, Hugo J. Bellen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

117 Scopus citations


During sensory organ precursor (SOP) specification, a single cell is selected from a proneural cluster of cells. Here, we present evidence that Senseless (Sens), a zinc-finger transcription factor, plays an important role in this process. We show that Sens is directly activated by proneural proteins in the presumptive SOPs and a few cells surrounding the SOP in most tissues. In the cells that express low levels of Sens, it acts in a DNA-binding-dependent manner to repress transcription of proneural genes. In the presumptive SOPs that express high levels of Sens, it acts as a transcriptional activator and synergizes with proneural proteins. We therefore propose that Sens acts as a binary switch that is fundamental to SOP selection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2966-2978
Number of pages13
JournalGenes and Development
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 1 2003


  • Drosophila
  • Enhancer of split
  • Neuronal specification
  • Peripheral nervous system development
  • Proneural genes


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