The imaginal discs of the genetically tractable model organism Drosophila melanogaster have been used to study cell-fate specification and plasticity, including homeotic changes and regeneration-induced transdetermination. The identity of the reprogramming mechanisms that induce plasticity has been of great interest in the field. Here we identify a change from antennal fate to eye fate induced by a Distal-less-GAL4 (DllGAL4) P-element insertion that is a mutant allele of Dll and expresses GAL4 in the antennal imaginal disc. While this fate change is not induced by tissue damage, it appears to be a hybrid of transdetermination and homeosis as the GAL4 expression causes upregulation of Wingless, and the Dll mutation is required for the fate change. Neither GAL4 expression nor a Dll mutation on its own is able to induce antenna-to-eye fate changes. This plasticity appears to be unique to the DllGAL4 line, possibly due to cellular stress induced by the high GAL4 expression combined with the severity of the Dll mutation. Thus, we propose that even in the absence of tissue damage, other forms of cellular stress caused by high GAL4 expression can induce determined cell fates to change, and selector gene mutations can sensitize the tissue to these transformations.
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