The Ground State of the Ventral Appendage in Drosophila

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Science  24 Aug 2001:
Vol. 293, Issue 5534, pp. 1477-1480
DOI: 10.1126/science.1062542

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In Drosophila melanogaster, the antennae, legs, genitalia, and analia make up a serially homologous set of ventral appendages that depend on different selector genes for their unique identities. The diversity among these structures implies that there is a common ground state that selector genes modify to generate these different appendage morphologies. Here we show that the ventral appendage that forms in the absence of selector gene activity is leglike but consists of only two segments along its proximo-distal axis: a proximal segment and a distal tarsus. These results raise the possibility that, during evolution, leglike appendages could have developed without selector gene activity.

  • * Present address: Instituto de Biologia Molecular e Celular, Rua do Campo Alegre 823, Porto-4150, Portugal.

  • To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: rsm10{at}

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