Genome-Wide Analysis Reveals a Major Role in Cell Fate Maintenance and an Unexpected Role in Endoreduplication for the Drosophila FoxA Gene Fork Head

Stockholm University, Sweden
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.23). 06/2011; 6(6):e20901. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0020901
Source: PubMed


Transcription factors drive organogenesis, from the initiation of cell fate decisions to the maintenance and implementation of these decisions. The Drosophila embryonic salivary gland provides an excellent platform for unraveling the underlying transcriptional networks of organ development because Drosophila is relatively unencumbered by significant genetic redundancy. The highly conserved FoxA family transcription factors are essential for various aspects of organogenesis in all animals that have been studied. Here, we explore the role of the single Drosophila FoxA protein Fork head (Fkh) in salivary gland organogenesis using two genome-wide strategies. A large-scale in situ hybridization analysis reveals a major role for Fkh in maintaining the salivary gland fate decision and controlling salivary gland physiological activity, in addition to its previously known roles in morphogenesis and survival. The majority of salivary gland genes (59%) are affected by fkh loss, mainly at later stages of salivary gland development. We show that global expression of Fkh cannot drive ectopic salivary gland formation. Thus, unlike the worm FoxA protein PHA-4, Fkh does not function to specify cell fate. In addition, Fkh only indirectly regulates many salivary gland genes, which is also distinct from the role of PHA-4 in organogenesis. Our microarray analyses reveal unexpected roles for Fkh in blocking terminal differentiation and in endoreduplication in the salivary gland and in other Fkh-expressing embryonic tissues. Overall, this study demonstrates an important role for Fkh in determining how an organ preserves its identity throughout development and provides an alternative paradigm for how FoxA proteins function in organogenesis.

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