Homeotic gene expression in the wild-type and a homeotic mutant of the moth Manduca sexta

Zhi Zheng, Adrian Khoo, Douglas Fambrough, Luis Garza, Ronald Booker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Antibodies were used to examine the expression patterns of Antennapedia (Antp), Ultrabithorax (Ubx), Ubx and abdominal-A combined (Ubx/abd-A), and Distalless (Dll) in the embryos of the moth Manduca sexta. We found that the spatial and temporal pattern of Antp expression in Manduca was correlated with the anterior migration of two patches of epithelium that include the anterior-most tracheal pits, and with the development of functional spiracles. Ubx expression showed an intricate pattern which suggests complex regulation during development. Throughout Manduca embryogenesis the expression of Ubx/Abd-A and Dll was similar to that reported for other insects. However, there was no apparent reduction in Ubx/Abd-A expression in the Manduca abdominal proleg primordia that expressed Dll. The expression of these four proteins was also examined in embryos of the Manduca homozygous homeotic mutant Octopod (Octo). The Octo mutation results in the transformation of A1 and A2 in the anterior direction, with homeotic legs appearing on A1 and occasionally A2. Our results suggest that in Octo animals there is a reduction in the level of Ubx protein expression throughout its domain. Based on homeotic gene expression in wild-type and mutant Manduca and in other insects, we discuss potential roles of homeotic genes in insect morphological evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)460-472
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopment Genes and Evolution
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Appendage
  • Development
  • Homeotic mutant
  • Insect
  • Spiracle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology


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