We have isolated a new female sterile mutant from Drosophila melanogaster, which arrests the embryonic development during the transition from syncytial to cellular blastoderm. Cytological analysis of the mutant embryos indicates that pseudocleavage furrows in the syncytial blastoderm are abnormal but not completely disrupted. However, cleavage furrows during cellularization are totally disorganized, and no embryos can develop beyond this stage. Consistent with this observation, the expression of this gene peaks around the cellular blastoderm and not in any later developmental stages. Based on immunofluorescence experiments, the protein product of this gene is localized in both pseudocleavage furrows at the syncytial blastoderm and in the cleavage furrows during the cellularization stage. Sequence homology analysis demonstrates a modest, but statistically significant, similarity of this protein with the carboxyl-terminal domains of dystrophin and a family of proteins collectively known as apodystrophins. It is possible that this protein may play an essential role in organizing and maintaining a specialized cytoskeletal structure, a function also suggested for dystrophin and apodystrophins.

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