Specification of cell fate in the adult sensory organs is known to be dependent on intrinsic and extrinsic signals. We show that the homeodomain transcription factor Prospero (Pros) acts as an intrinsic signal for the specification of cell fates within the mechanosensory lineage. The sensory organ precursors divide to give rise to two secondary progenitors - PIIa and PIIb. Pros is expressed in PIIb, which gives rise to the neuron and thecogen cells. Loss of Pros function affects the identity of PIIb and neurons fail to differentiate. Pros misexpression is sufficient for the transformation of PIIa to PIIb fate. The expression of Pros in the normal PIIb cell appears to be regulated by Notch signaling.

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