The Drosophila argos gene, which encodes a secreted protein with an EGF motif, is involved in several developmental processes regulating cell-cell interactions such as eye morphogenesis. Loss-of-function mutations in the argos gene cause an increase in the number of photoreceptor cells and cone cells, impaired retinal projections to the optic lobe, and the formation of extra veins. We show here that ubiquitously expressed argos product restored all these loss-of-function phenotypes. Overexpression of argos in the wild- type background resulted in the reduced number of photoreceptor cells, cone cells, and pigment cells, which are phenotypes opposite to those of the loss- of-function mutants. The argos gene is expressed in developing wing veins. Ubiquitous argos expression caused loss of veins in a dose-dependent manner. This phenotype was enhanced by the loss-of-function rhomboid mutation, implying the possibility that argos and rhomboid play key roles in a common pathway for normal wing vein formation. We propose that argos acts as an inhibitory signal for cellular differentiation in the developing eye and wing.
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