Genetic control of cuticle formation during embryonic development of Drosophila melanogaster.
The embryonic cuticle of Drosophila melanogaster is deposited by the epidermal epithelium during stage 16 of development. This tough, waterproof layer is essential for maintaining the structural integrity of the larval body. We have characterized mutations in a set of genes required for proper deposition and/or morphogenesis of the cuticle. Zygotic disruption of any one of these genes results in embryonic lethality. Mutant embryos are hyperactive within the eggshell, resulting in a high proportion reversed within the eggshell (the "retroactive" phenotype), and all show poor cuticle integrity when embryos are mechanically devitellinized. This last property results in embryonic cuticle preparations that appear grossly inflated compared to wild-type cuticles (the "blimp" phenotype). We find that one of these genes, krotzkopf verkehrt (kkv), encodes the Drosophila chitin synthase enzyme and that a closely linked gene, knickkopf (knk), encodes a novel protein that shows genetic interaction with the Drosophila E-cadherin, shotgun. We also demonstrate that two other known mutants, grainy head (grh) and retroactive (rtv), show the blimp phenotype when devitellinized, and we describe a new mutation, called zeppelin (zep), that shows the blimp phenotype but does not produce defects in the head cuticle as the other mutations do.
Ostrowski, S; Dierick, HA; Bejsovec, A
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