Revisiting the developmental and cellular role of the pigmentation gene yellow in Drosophila using a tagged allele

Hélène Hinaux, Katharina Bachem, Margherita Battistara, Matteo Rossi, Yaqun Xin, Rita Jaenichen, Yann Le Poul, Laurent Arnoult, Johanna M. Kobler, Ilona C. Grunwald Kadow, Lisa Rodermund, Benjamin Prud'homme, Nicolas Gompel

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21 Scopus citations


Pigmentation is a diverse and ecologically relevant trait in insects. Pigment formation has been studied extensively at the genetic and biochemical levels. The temporality of pigment formation during animal development, however, is more elusive. Here, we examine this temporality, focusing on yellow, a gene involved in the formation of black melanin. We generated a protein-tagged yellow allele in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, which allowed us to precisely describe Yellow expression pattern at the tissue and cellular levels throughout development. We found Yellow expressed in the pupal epidermis in patterns prefiguring black pigmentation. We also found Yellow expressed in a few central neurons from the second larval instar to adult stages, including a subset of neurons adjacent to the clock neurons marked by the gene Pdf. We then specifically examined the dynamics of Yellow expression domain and subcellular localization in relationship to pigment formation. In particular, we showed how a late step of re-internalization is regulated by the large low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein Megalin. Finally we suggest a new function for Yellow in the establishment of sharp pigmentation pattern boundaries, whereby this protein may assume a structural role, anchoring pigment deposits or pigmentation enzymes in the cuticle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-123
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 15 Jun 2018


  • Cell trafficking
  • Insect
  • Live imaging
  • Melanin
  • Pattern boundary
  • Pigmentation


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