Genomic analysis of the ecdysone steroid signal at metamorphosis onset using ecdysoneless and EcRnull Drosophila melanogaster mutants

Melissa B. Davis, Tongruei Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Steroid hormone gene regulation is often depicted as a linear transduction of the signal, from molecule release to the gene level, by activation of a receptor protein after being bound by its steroid ligand. Such an action would require that the hormone be present and bound to the receptor in order to have target gene response. Here, we present data that presents a novel perspective of hormone gene regulation, where the hormone molecule and its receptor have exclusive target gene regulation function, in addition to the traditional direct target genes. Our study is the first genome-wide analysis of conditional mutants simultaneously modeling the steroid and steroid receptor gene expression regulation. We have integrated classical genetic mutant experiments with functional genomics techniques in the Drosophila melanogaster model organism, where we interrogate the 20-hydroxyecdysone signaling response at the onset of metamorphosis. Our novel catalog of ecdysone target genes illustrates the separable transcriptional responses among the hormone, the pre-hormone receptor and the post-hormone receptor. We successfully detected traditional ecdysone target genes as common targets and also identified novel sets of target genes which where exclusive to each mutant condition. Around 12 % of the genome responds to the ecdysone hormone signal at the onset of metamorphosis and over half of these are independent of the receptor. In addition, a significant portion of receptor regulated genes are differentially regulated by the receptor, depending on its ligand state. Gene ontology enrichment analyses confirm known ecdysone regulated biological functions and also validate implicated pathways that have been indirectly associated with ecdysone signaling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-46
Number of pages26
JournalGenes and Genomics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Ecdysone
  • Ecdysone receptor
  • Genome-wide
  • Hormone target genes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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