Contrabithorax, a mutant of the bithorax system in Drosophila melanogaster produces a partial homeotic transformation of mesothorax (wing) into metathorax (haltere). The wing of a fly homozygous or heterozygous for the mutant is a mosaic of wing and haltere structures. A genetic analysis of the mutant suggests that its phenotype is due to some form of derepression in the wing of two other genes of the bithorax system (bithorax and postbithorax) which are not normally active there. This repression is not complete. The activity of the two genes is below the normal level resulting in only a partial transformation of wing into haltere.
Clones of marked cells were generated by X-rays and were found to include both transformed (haltere) and untransformed (wing) territory; this was true even for those generated late in development. Thus the final expression of a cell depends not on its immediate ancestry but perhaps on the level of the products of the wild-type alleles of bithorax and postbithorax.