Many studies have shown that morphological diversity among homologous animal structures is generated by the homeotic (Hox) genes. However, the mechanisms through which Hox genes specify particular morphological features are not fully understood. We have addressed this issue by investigating how diverse sensory organ patterns are formed among the legs of the Drosophila melanogaster adult. The Drosophila adult has one pair of legs on each of its three thoracic segments (the T1-T3 segments). Although homologous, legs from different segments have distinct morphological features. Our focus is on the formation of diverse patterns of small mechanosensory bristles or microchaetae (mCs) among the legs. On T2 legs, the mCs are organized into a series of longitudinal rows (L-rows) precisely positioned along the leg circumference. The L-rows are observed on all three pairs of legs, but additional and novel pattern elements are found on T1 and T3 legs. For example, at specific positions on T1 and T3 legs, some mCs are organized into transverse rows (T-rows). Our studies indicate that the T-rows on T1 and T3 legs are established as a result of Hox gene modulation of the pathway for patterning the L-row mC bristles. Our findings suggest that the Hox genes, Sex combs reduced (Scr) and Ultrabithorax (Ubx), establish differential expression of the proneural gene achaete (ac) by modifying expression of the ac prepattern regulator, Delta (Dl), in T1 and T3 legs, respectively. This study identifies Dl as a potential link between Hox genes and the sensory organ patterning hierarchy, providing insight into the connection between Hox gene function and the formation of specific morphological features. © 2006 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
Shroff, S., Joshi, M., & Orenic, T. V. (2007). Differential Delta expression underlies the diversity of sensory organ patterns among the legs of the Drosophila adult. Mechanisms of Development, 124(1), 43–58. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mod.2006.09.004