The E2F family of transcription factors contributes to cell cycle control by regulating the transcription of DNA replication factors. Functional ‘E2F’ is a DNA-binding heterodimer composed of E2F and DP proteins. Drosophila contains two E2F genes (dE2F, dE2F2) and one DP gene (dDP). Mutation of either dE2F or dDP eliminates G(1)-S transcription of known replication factors during embryogenesis and compromises DNA replication. However, the analysis of these mutant phenotypes is complicated by the perdurance of maternally supplied gene function. To address this and to further analyze the role of E2F transcription factors in development we have phenotypically characterized mitotic clones of dDP mutant cells in the female germline. Our analysis indicates that dDP is required for several essential processes during oogenesis. In a fraction of the mutant egg chambers the germ cells execute one extra round of mitosis, suggesting that in this tissue dDP is uniquely utilized for cell cycle arrest rather than cell cycle progression. Mutation of dDP in the germline also prevents nurse cell cytoplasm transfer to the oocyte, resulting in a ‘dumpless’ phenotype that blocks oocyte development. This phenotype likely results from both disruption of the actin cytoskeleton and a failure of nurse cell apoptosis, each of which are required for normal cytoplasmic transfer. Lastly, we found that dDP is required for the establishment of the dorsal-ventral axis, as loss of dDP function prevents the localized expression of the EGFR ligand Gurken in the oocyte, which initiates dorsal-ventral polarity in the egg chamber. Thus we have uncovered new functions for E2F transcription factors during development, including an unexpected role in pattern formation.

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