During the development of multicellular organisms, many events occur with precise timing. In Drosophila melanogaster, pupation occurs about 12 hours after puparium formation, and its timing is believed to be determined by the release of a steroid hormone, ecdysone (E), from the prothoracic gland. Here, we demonstrate that the ecdysone-20-monooxygenase, Shade, determines the pupation timing by converting E to 20-hydroxyecdysone (20E) in the fat body, which is the organ that senses nutritional status. The timing of shade expression is determined by its transcriptional activator βFTZ-F1. The βFTZ-F1 gene is activated after a decline in the expression of its transcriptional repressor Blimp-1, which is temporally expressed around puparium formation in response to a high titer of 20E. The expression level and stability of Blimp-1 is critical for the precise timing of pupation. Thus, we propose that Blimp-1 molecules function as sands in an hourglass for this precise developmental timer system. Furthermore, our data suggest a biological advantage results from both the use of a transcriptional repressor for the time determination, and association of developmental timing with nutritional status of the organism.
- Received December 1, 2015.
- Accepted May 17, 2016.