We have studied the course of the operculum line in the larval hypoderm of several bithorax complex mutants of Drosophila melanogaster. The bifurcation of the line, a characteristic of the first abdominal segment in wild-type (A1), can also appear in the metathoracic (T3) and other abdominal segments (A2, A3) depending on mutations within the bithorax complex. Therefore, we concluded that the course of the operculum line and thus the shape of the operculum is not determined by a suprasegmental gradient of positional information but by the functional state of the genes of the bithorax complex in each metamere. The dorsal and ventral branches of the operculum line react differently, the dorsal branch being more sensitive to the effect of loss of function mutations (bxd, iab-2k), the ventral branch more affected by gain of function mutations (Hab). In some cases the effects of the mutations on the operculum line differed from those in the adult, suggesting a difference in sensitivity of larval hypodermal cells and histoblast cells to the functional gene products of the bithorax complex.
- Bithorax complex
- Drosophila melanogaster