The transcription factor Twist initiates Drosophila mesoderm development, resulting in the formation of heart, somatic muscle, and other cell types. Using a Drosophila embryo sorter, we isolated enough homozygous twist mutant embryos to perform DNA microarray experiments. Transcription profiles of twist loss-of-function embryos, embryos with ubiquitous twist expression, and wild-type embryos were compared at different developmental stages. The results implicate hundreds of genes, many with vertebrate homologs, in stagespecific processes in mesoderm development. One such gene, gleeful, related to the vertebrate Gli genes, is essential for somatic muscle development and sufficient to cause neural cells to express a muscle marker.
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