Date Published:2003 Jun
In vertebrate development, the establishment of left-right asymmetry is essential for sidedness and the directional looping of organs like the heart. Both the nodal pathway and retinoic acid play major and conserved regulatory roles in these processes. We carried out a novel screen in Drosophila to identify mutants that specifically affect the looping of left-right asymmetric organs. We report the isolation of spin, a novel mutant in which the looping of the genitalia and spermiduct are incomplete; under-rotation of the genitalia indicates that spin controls looping morphogenesis but not direction, thus uncoupling left-right asymmetry and looping morphogenesis. spin is a novel, rotation-specific allele of the fasciclin2 (Fas2) gene, which encodes a cell-adhesion protein involved in several aspects of neurogenesis. In spin mutants, the synapses connecting specific neurosecretory cells to the corpora allata are affected. The corpus allatum is part of the ring gland and is involved in the control of juvenile hormone titers during development. Our genetic and pharmacological results indicate that Fas2(spin) rotation defects are linked to an abnormal endocrine function and an elevated level of juvenile hormone. As juvenile hormone is an insect sesquiterpenoid related to retinoic acid, these results establish a new genetic model for studying organ looping and demonstrate an evolutionarily conserved role for terpenoids in this process.