Mutations in the escargot (esg) locus, which codes for a zinc-finger-containing protein with similarity to the product of the snail gene, cause a variety of defects in adult structures such as loss of abdominal cuticle and malformation of the wings and legs. esg RNA is expressed in wing, haltere, leg and genital imaginal discs and in abdominal histoblast nests in the embryo. Expression in imaginal tissues is also found in third instar larvae. In esg mutant larvae, normally diploid abdominal histoblasts replicate their DNA without cell division and become similar in appearance to the polytene larval epidermal cells. A similar phenotype was also found in imaginal discs of larvae mutant for both esg and the Drosophila raf gene. These results suggest that one of the normal functions of esg may be the maintenance of diploidy in imaginal cells.
- imaginal disc
- escargot gene