Protein 4.1 functions to link transmembrane proteins with the underlying spectrin/actin cytoskeleton. To permit a genetic analysis of the developmental role and cellular functions of this membrane-skeletal protein, we have identified and characterized its Drosophila homologue (termed D4.1). D4.1 is localized to the septate junctions of epithelial cells and is encoded by the coracle gene, a new locus whose primary mutant phenotype is a failure in dorsal closure. In addition, coracle mutations dominantly suppress Ellipse, a hypermorphic allele of the Drosophila EGF-receptor homologue. These data indicate that D4.1 is associated with the septate junction, and suggest that it may play a role in cell-cell interactions that are essential for normal development.

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