Mutations in a steroid hormone-regulated gene disrupt the metamorphosis of internal tissues in Drosophila: salivary glands, muscle, and gut

Linda L. Restifo, Kalpana White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

67 Scopus citations


In holometabolous insects, the steroid molting hormone 20-OH-ecdysone (ecdysterone) orchestrates the diverse developmental events of metamorphosis, in large part by regulating gene expression. In Drosophila, the Broad Complex (BR-C) is one of the first loci to be induced by ecdysterone at the end of larval life, and is essential for translating the hormonal signal into the behavioral and anatomical events which herald the onset of metamorphosis. BR-C products are believed to act by binding to and modifying the transcriptional activities of other hormone-sensitive genes. In addition to abnormalities of the epidermis, BR-C mutants dying during metamorphosis manifest a syndrome of multiple internal tissue defects which represent a failure of the larval-to-adult transition. We have reported features of central nervous system metamorphosis requiring BR-C function, notably morphogenetic movements and optic lobe organization. In this paper we describe defective development of salivary glands, flight muscles, and gut in BR-C mutants, including: persistence of larval salivary glands; failure of the adult salivary glands to extend into the thorax; abnormalities of midgut transition and of proventriculus structure and location; and absence of dorsal-ventral indirect flight muscles. Some of these abnormalities represent defects in programmed cell death. Distinct patterns of phenotypes were seen in mutants of each of the three lethal complementation groups comprising the BR-C. The patterns of phenotypes suggest overlapping but distinct functions encoded by this complex locus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)221-234
Number of pages14
JournalRoux's Archives of Developmental Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 1 1992



  • Drosophila
  • Gut
  • Muscle
  • Programmed cell death
  • Salivary glands
  • Steroid hormones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology

Cite this