Determination of wing cell fate by the escargot and snail genes in Drosophila

Naoyuki Fuse, Susumu Hirose, Shigeo Hayashi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Citations (Scopus)


Insect appendages such as the wing and the leg are formed in response to inductive signals in the embryonic field. In Drosophila, cells receiving such signals initiate developmental programs which allow them to become imaginal discs. Subsequently, these discs autonomously organize patterns specific for each appendage. We here report that two related transcription factors. Escargot and Snail that are expressed in the embryonic wing disc, function as intrinsic determinants of the wing cell fate. In escargot or snail mutant embryos, wing-specific expression of Snail, Vestigial and β-galactosidase regulated by escargot enhancer were found as well as in wild-type embryos. However, in escargot snail double mutant embryos, wing development proceeded until stage 13, but the marker expression was not maintained in later stages, and the invagination of the primordium was absent. From such analyses, it was concluded that Escargot and Snail expression in the wing disc are maintained by their auto- and crossactivation. Ubiquitous escargot or snail. expression induced from the hsp70 promoter rescued the escargot snail double mutant phenotype with the effects confined to the prospective wing cells. Similar DNA binding specificities of Escargot and Snail suggest that they control the same set of genes required for wing development. We thus propose the following scenario for early wing disc development. Prospective wing cells respond to the induction by turning on escargot and mail transcription, and become competent for regulation by Escargot and Snail. Such cells initiate auto- and crossregulatory circuits of escargot and snail. The sustained Escargot and Snail expression then activates vestigial and other target genes that are essential for wing development. This maintains the commitment to the wing cell fate and induces wing-specific cell shape change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1059-1067
Number of pages9
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1996 Apr 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Autoregulation
  • Cell fate maintenance
  • Crossregulation
  • Drosophila
  • Escargot
  • Snail
  • Wing development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology


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