The Drosophila E74 gene is required for metamorphosis and plays a role in the polytene chromosome puffing response to ecdysone

J. C. Fletcher, K. C. Burtis, D. S. Hogness, C. S. Thummel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations


The steroid hormone ecdysone initiates Drosophila metamorphosis by reprogramming gene expression during late larval and prepupal development. The ecdysone-inducible gene E74, a member of the ets proto-oncogene family, has been proposed to play a key role in this process. E74 is encoded within the 74EF early puff and consists of two overlapping transcription units, E74A and E74B. To assess the function(s) of E74 during metamorphosis, we have isolated and characterized recessive loss-of-function mutations specific to each transcription unit. We find that mutations in E74A and E74B are predominantly lethal during prepupal and pupal development, consistent with a critical role for their gene products in metamorphosis. Phenotypic analysis reveals that E74 function is required for both pupariation and pupation, and for the metamorphosis of both larval and imaginal tissues. E74B mutants are defective in puparium formation and head eversion and die as prepupae or cryptocephalic pupae, while E74A mutants pupariate normally and die either as prepupae or pharate adults. We have also investigated the effects of the E74 mutations on gene expression by examining the puffing pattern of the salivary gland polytene chromosomes in newly formed mutant prepupae. Most puffs are only modestly affected by the E74B mutation, whereas a subset of late puffs are sub-maximally induced in E74A mutant prepupae. These observations are consistent with Ashburner's proposal that early puff proteins induce the formation of late puffs, and define E74A as a regulator of late puff activity. They also demonstrate that E74 plays a wide role in reshaping the insect during metamorphosis, affecting tissues other than the salivary gland in which it was originally identified.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1455-1465
Number of pages11
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Cryptocephalic pupa
  • Drosophilia
  • E74
  • Ecdysone
  • ETS
  • Metamorphosis
  • Polytene chromosome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Anatomy


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