We have characterized the function of a new neurogenic locus, brainiac (brn), during oogenesis. Homozygous brn females lay eggs with fused dorsal appendages, a phenotype associated with torpedo (top) alleles of the Drosophila EGF receptor (DER) locus. By constructing double mutant females for both brn and top, we have found that brn is required for determining the dorsal-ventral polarity of the ovarian follicle. However, embryos from mature brn eggs develop a neurogenic phenotype which can be zygotically rescued if a wild-type sperm fertilizes the egg. This is the first instance of a Drosophila gene required for determination of dorsal-ventral follicle cell fates that is not required for determination of embryonic dorsal-ventral cell fates. The temperature-sensitive period for brn dorsal-ventral patterning begins at the inception of vitellogenesis. The interaction between brn and DER is also required for at least two earlier follicle cell activities which are necessary to establish the ovarian follicle. Prefollicular cells fail to migrate between each oocyte/nurse cell complex, resulting in follicles with multiple sets of oocytes and nurse cells. brn and DER function is also required for establishing and/or maintaining a continuous follicular epithelium around each oocyte/nurse cell complex. These brn functions as well as the brn requirement for determination of dorsal-ventral polarity appear to be genetically separable functions of the brn locus. Genetic mosaic experiments show that brn is required in the germline during these processes whereas the DER is required in the follicle cells. We propose that brn may be part of a germline signaling pathway differentially regulating successive DER-dependent follicle cell activities of migration, division and/or adhesion and determination during oogenesis. These experiments indicate that brn is required in both tyrosine kinase and neurogenic intercellular signaling pathways. Moreover, the functions of brn in oogenesis are distinct from those of Notch and Delta, two other neurogenic loci that are known to be required for follicular development.

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