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Different patterns of transcription from the two Antennapedia promoters during Drosophila embryogenesis
J.R. Bermingham, A. Martinez-Arias, M.G. Petitt, M.P. Scott


The homeotic genes of Drosophila control the differentiation of segments during development. Mutations in these genes cause one or more segments to develop structures normally found elsewhere in the organism. Several studies have shown that the spatial patterns of homeotic gene transcription are highly complex, and that these precise patterns of transcription are critical to normal development. The homeotic gene Antennapedia (Antp), a member of the Antennapedia Complex, is required for the correct differentiation of thoracic segments in both embryos and adults. The patterns of total Antp transcript and protein accumulation have been described in detail, but the contribution of each promoter to the overall pattern in embryos has not been reported. We have examined in detail the spatial distribution of transcripts from each of the Antp promoters in both embryo sections and whole embryos by in situ hybridization using promoter-specific probes. We show that the transcripts from each of the two promoters accumulate in distinct, but overlapping patterns during embryogenesis. The results demonstrate that the two Antp promoters are differentially regulated in embryos and provide a basis for examining the regulation of the two promoters and characterizing more fully the function of Antp during embryogenesis. In addition, we have examined the regulation of each of the Antp promoters by genes of the bithorax complex (BX-C). We show that in BX-C- embryos both promoters are derepressed in the abdomen.