Mutations in a newly identified Drosophila melanogaster gene, mago nashi, disrupt germ cell formation and result in the formation of mirror-image symmetrical double abdomen embryos.
The mago nashi (mago) locus is a newly identified strict maternal effect, grandchildless-like, gene in Drosophila melanogaster. In homozygous mutant mago females reared at 17 degrees C, mago+ function is reduced, the inviable embryos lack abdominal segments and 84-98% of the embryos die. In contrast, at 25 degrees C, some mago alleles produce a novel gene product capable of inducing the formation of symmetrical double abdomen embryos. Reciprocal temperature-shift experiments indicate that the temperature-sensitive period is during oogenetic stages 7-14. Furthermore, embryos collected from mago1 homozygous females contain no apparent functional posterior determinants in the posterior pole. In viable F1 progeny from mago mutant females, regardless of genotype and temperature, polar granules are reduced or absent and germ cells fail to form (the grandchildless-like phenotype). Thus, we propose that the mago+ product is a component of the posterior determinative system, required during oogenesis, both for germ cell determination and delineation of the longitudinal axis of the embryo.