Interlocked feedforward loops control cell-type-specific rhodopsin expression in the drosophila eye

Robert J. Johnston, Yoshiaki Otake, Pranidhi Sood, Nina Vogt, Rudy Behnia, Daniel Vasiliauskas, Elizabeth McDonald, Baotong Xie, Sebastian Koenig, Reinhard Wolf, Tiffany Cook, Brian Gebelein, Edo Kussell, Hideki Nakagoshi, Claude Desplan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


How complex networks of activators and repressors lead to exquisitely specific cell-type determination during development is poorly understood. In the Drosophila eye, expression patterns of Rhodopsins define at least eight functionally distinct though related subtypes of photoreceptors. Here, we describe a role for the transcription factor gene defective proventriculus (dve) as a critical node in the network regulating Rhodopsin expression. dve is a shared component of two opposing, interlocked feedforward loops (FFLs). Orthodenticle and Dve interact in an incoherent FFL to repress Rhodopsin expression throughout the eye. In R7 and R8 photoreceptors, a coherent FFL relieves repression by Dve while activating Rhodopsin expression. Therefore, this network uses repression to restrict and combinatorial activation to induce cell-type-specific expression. Furthermore, Dve levels are finely tuned to yield cell-type- and region-specific repression or activation outcomes. This interlocked FFL motif may be a general mechanism to control terminal cell-fate specification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)956-968
Number of pages13
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 10 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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