Specification of left-right asymmetry in the embryonic gut of Drosophila.
Ligoxygakis P., Strigini M., Averof M.
Most animals exhibit stable left-right asymmetries in their body. Although significant progress has been made in elucidating the mechanisms that set up these asymmetries in vertebrates, nothing is known about them in Drosophila. This is usually attributed to the fact that no reversals of stable left-right asymmetries have been observed in Drosophila, although relevant surveys have been carried out. We have focused on the asymmetry of the proventriculus in the embryonic gut of Drosophila, an aspect of left-right asymmetry that is extremely stable in wild-type flies. We show that this asymmetry can be reversed by mutations in the dicephalic and wunen genes, which also cause reversals in the antero-posterior axis of the embryo relative to its mother. This is the first observation to suggest that left-right asymmetries in Drosophila can be reversed by genetic/developmental manipulations. It also suggests that maternal signals may initiate the specification of some left-right asymmetries in the embryo.