Regulation and Formation of the Drosophila Salivary Glandsa

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The homeotic gene, Sex combs reduced (Scr), is a master regulator of Drosophila salivary gland formation. Embryos in which Scr function is missing do not form salivary glands, and embryos in which SCR protein is expressed everywhere form extra salivary glands. However, other known proteins, including the homeotic protein Abdominal-B, the unusual zinc finger protein Teashirt, and the secreted signaling molecule Decapentaplegic (a TGF-β family member), limit the recruitment of SCR-expressing cells to salivary glands. To learn the molecular details of how salivary gland gene expression is controlled and as a first step toward understanding how the SCR transcription factor controls salivary gland morphogenesis, we screened for genes expressed in the developing salivary gland. Among our best candidates for potential direct downstream targets of SCR in the salivary gland are the genes trachealess (trh), dCREB-A, jalapeño, and Semaphorin II (SemaII). Our genetic studies suggest distinct and important roles for each of these genes in salivary gland morphogenesis. Current work includes studying the molecular interactions between SCR and these downstream target genes and asking how target genes coordinate their activities to effect the cell biological changes required to build functional salivary glands.

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