Tufted is a classical Drosophila mutant characterized by a large number of ectopic mechanosensory bristles on the dorsal mesothorax. Unlike other ectopic bristle mutants, Tufted is epistatic to achaete and scute, the proneural genes that normally control the development of these sensory organs. In this report, I present genetic and molecular evidence that Tufted is a gain-of-function allele of the proneural gene amos that ectopically activates mechanosensory neurogenesis. I also systematically examine the ability of the various proneural bHLH proteins to cross-activate each other and find that their ability to do so is in general relatively limited, despite their common ability to induce the formation of mechanosensory bristles. This phenomenon seems instead to be related to their shared ability to activate Asense and Senseless.
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