wing blister, A New Drosophila Laminin α Chain Required for Cell Adhesion and Migration during Embryonic and Imaginal Development

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Abstract.We report the molecular and functional characterization of a new α chain of laminin in Drosophila. The new laminin chain appears to be the Drosophila counterpart of both vertebrate α2 (also called merosin) and α1 chains, with a slightly higher degree of homology to α2, suggesting that this chain is an ancestral version of both α1 and α2 chains. During embryogenesis, the protein is associated with basement membranes of the digestive system and muscle attachment sites, and during larval stage it is found in a specific pattern in wing and eye discs. The gene is assigned to a locus called wing blister (wb), which is essential for embryonic viability. Embryonic phenotypes include twisted germbands and fewer pericardial cells, resulting in gaps in the presumptive heart and tracheal trunks, and myotubes detached from their target muscle attachment sites. Most phenotypes are in common with those observed in Drosophila laminin α3, 5 mutant embryos and many are in common with those observed in integrin mutations. Adult phenotypes show blisters in the wings in viable allelic combinations, similar to phenotypes observed in integrin genes. Mutation analysis in the eye demonstrates a function in rhabdomere organization. In summary, this new laminin α chain is essential for embryonic viability and is involved in processes requiring cell migration and cell adhesion.

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