Interactions of the Drosophila gap gene giant with maternal and zygotic pattern-forming genes

E. D. Eldon, V. Pirrotta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

111 Scopus citations


The Drosophila gene giant (gt) is a segmentation gene that affects anterior head structures and abdominal segments A5-A7. Immunolocalization of the gt product shows that it is a nuclear protein whose expression is initially activated in an anterior and a posterior domain. Activation of the anterior domain is dependent on the maternal bicoid gradient while activation of the posterior domain requires maternal nanos gene product. Initial expression is not abolished by mutations in any of the zygotic gap genes. By cellular blastoderm, the initial pattern of expression has evolved into one posterior and three anterior stripes of expression. The evolution, position and width of these stripes are dependent on interactions between gt and the other gap genes. In turn, gt activity in these domains affects the expression of the other gap genes. These interactions, typical of the cross-regulation previously observed among gap genes, confirm that gt is a member of the gap gene class whose function is necessary to establish the overall pattern of gap gene expression. After cellular blastoderm, gt protein continues to be expressed in the head region in parts of the maxillary and mandibular segments as well as in the labrum. Expression is never detected in the labial or thoracic segment primordia but persists in certain head structures, including the ring gland, until the end of embryonic development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)367-378
Number of pages12
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology


  • Drosophila segmentation
  • gap genes
  • head development
  • morphogenetic gradients


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