Collaborative Resources for
Learning Developmental Biology
Collaborative Resources for Learning Developmental Biology
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Drosophila Anteroposterior Patterning
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Nipam Patel
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Organisms: Model Organisms; Invertebrates
Tools & Techniques: Visualizing Genes/ Proteins
Early Embryogenesis: Maternal Determinants
Embryonic Patterning: Axis Formation; Segmentation; Compartments/Boundaries
Signaling: Morphogens and Gradients
Gene Regulation: Gene Regulatory Networks; Transcriptional Control
Organism: Drosophila
Stage of Development: Embryo

Object Description

Summary of Drosophila Anteroposterior Patterning.  Both the eventual anteroposterior and dorsoventral axes of the embryo are established during the development of the oocyte in the adult female.  The staining of nuclei shown in the top panel reveals that the oocyte nucleus is positioned at the future anterior dorsal side.  Shortly after fertilization, maternal gradients are established within the syncytial embryo, followed by the sequential subdivision of the embryo into smaller and smaller subdivisions by the sequential action of gap, pair-rule, and segment polarity genes.  Laid on top of this configuration of segments is a pattern of regional identity mediated by the homeotic (Hox) genes.  The domains of Hox gene expression are initially established by gap genes, and refined by input from pair-rule and segment polarity gene expression, as well as by interactions between the different Hox genes.

The top oocyte image is from a fly line that contains an enhancer-trap directing the production of nuclear localized beta-galactosidase in the germline.  The nuclei were immunostained with an antibody to beta-galactosidase.


Gilbert, S.F. Developmental Biology. 6th edition. Sunderland, MA, Sinauer Associates, 2000. The Origins of Anterior-Posterior Polarity.

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