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Keywords:

  • bicoid;
  • byn;
  • Drosophila;
  • gut;
  • hkb;
  • left–right asymmetry

While left–right (LR) asymmetric morphogenesis is common to various animal species, there have been no systematic studies of the LR asymmetry of body structures of Drosophila melanogaster. In the present paper the LR asymmetric development of the Drosophila gut is described, in which three major parts, the foregut, midgut and hindgut, show almost invariant LR asymmetry. The asymmetry is generated by a twist of each part in particular orientations, resulting in a left-handed (sinistral) convolution as a whole. The frequency of spontaneous reversal of LR orientations is very low (< 0.6%) and reversal of each part of the gut occurs independently. The bicoid mutation causes duplication of the posterior half of the gut, essentially keeping the left-handed twist, suggesting that the LR asymmetry may depend on some intrinsic nature of the cells or tissues rather than a graded distribution of morphogens in the egg. The handedness of particular gut parts was randomized or became symmetric in mutants of brachyenteron, huckebein and patched, suggesting that different gene pathways can interfere in determining LR asymmetry of the gut. It is noteworthy that all of these genes are expressed LR symmetrically.