The adult head capsule of Drosophila forms primarily from the eye-antennal imaginal discs. Here, we demonstrate that the head primordium is patterned differently from the discs which give rise to the appendages. We show that the segment polarity genes hedgehog and wingless specify the identities of specific regions of the head capsule. During eye-antennal disc development, hedgehog and wingless expression initially overlap, but subsequently segregate. This regional segregation is critical to head specification and is regulated by the orthodenticle homeobox gene. We also show that orthodenticle is a candidate hedgehog target gene during early eye-antennal disc development.

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