Identification and characterization of new genes involved in Drosophila heart development

Ye Tao, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Heart development is a crucial and conserved process that is related to the major type of human birth defects. Dorsal vessel, the Drosophila heart, has been regarded as an insightful system to identify new genes and study gene functions involved in heart development. Using heart-specific GFP transgenes, I did a genetic screen for cardiogenic genes on Drosophila chromosome II. Drosophila mutants that carry chromosome II deficiencies were tested for their phenotypes of heart development. Based on the screen results, chromosome regions containing genes required for heart development were identified. Fly strains with single gene mutations located within the defined deficiency regions were tested further. Seven genes have been identified to be involved in heart development. The LIM homeodomain transcription factor gene tailup (tup) was further studied for its function in heart development. Based on this study, tup is expressed in cardioblasts and pericardial cells of the heart tube, as well as in associated lymph glands and alary muscles. In depth analysis of tup mutant phenotypes demonstrated tup is required for normal development of both heart and lymph glands. Tup was shown to bind to two DNA recognition sequences in the dorsal vessel enhancer of the Hand bHLH transcription factor gene, with one site proven essential for the expression of Hand in lymph glands, pericardial cells, and Svp/Doc cardioblasts. Together, these studies demonstrate that Tup is a critical new transcription factor in dorsal vessel morphogenesis and lymph gland formation, and strongly suggest Tup is a direct regulator of the expression of Hand in these developmental processes.

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Recommended Citation

Tao, Ye, "Identification and characterization of new genes involved in Drosophila heart development" (2007). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3256563.