Restriction of ectopic eye formation by Drosophila teashirt and tiptop to the developing antenna



In Drosophila, the retinal determination network comprises a set of nuclear factors whose loss-of-function phenotypes often include the complete or near total elimination of the developing eye. These genes also share the ability of being able to induce ectopic eye formation when forcibly expressed in nonretinal tissues such as the antennae, legs, halteres, wings, and genitals. However, it appears that the ability to redirect and transform tissue fates is limited; not all tissues and cell populations can be forced into adopting an eye fate. In this report, we demonstrate that ectopic eye formation by teashirt and its paralog tiptop, a potential new eye specification gene, is restricted to the developing antennae. Of interest, tiptop appears to be a more effective inducer of retinal formation than teashirt. A genetic screen for interacting proteins failed to identify paralog-specific relationships suggesting that the differences between these two genes may be attributed instead to structural differences between the duplicates. We also demonstrate that in addition to being expressed in coincident patterns within the developing eye, both paralogs are transcribed at very similar levels. Developmental Dynamics 238:2202–2210, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.