The Drosophila EGF receptor (DER) is required for the specification of diverse cell fates throughout development. We have examined how the activation of DER controls the development of vein and intervein cells in the Drosophila wing. The data presented here indicate that two distinct events are involved in the determination and differentiation of wing cells. (1) The establishment of a positive feedback amplification loop, which drives DER signaling in larval stages. At this time, rhomboid (rho), in combination with vein, initiates and amplifies the activity of DER in vein cells. (2) The late downregulation of DER activity. At this point, the inactivation of MAPK in vein cells is necessary for the maintenance of the expression of decapentaplegic (dpp) and becomes essential for vein differentiation. Together, these temporal and spatial changes in the activity of DER constitute an autoregulatory network that controls the definition of vein and intervein cell types.

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