In Drosophila, genes in the centromere-proximal portion of the bithorax complex (BX-C) have been shown to control the development of the metathorax, and parts of the mesothorax and first abdominal segment. Here, we explore the roles of genes positioned more distally by examining the larval and adult phenotypes caused by a breakpoint and deletion in the middle of the complex. We find that both aberrations affect only abdominal segments, transforming the more anterior segments towards the first abdominal segment, and the remaining segments into a graded series of novel segment types which are partially transformed towards more anterior abdominal segments. Moreover, the adult transformations, which we have observed in somatic clones of mutant cells, are in close accord with the transformations observed in mutant first instar larvae, and appear to be expressed in a cell autonomous fashion. We discuss these results in the light of current views of the organization and function of the complex.

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