The Dfos/kayak gene encodes a bZIP protein, DFos, required in a large variety of differentiation and morphogenetic processes throughout Drosophila development. The recent availability of an expressed sequence tag (EST) sequence led us to identify a novel kay mRNA encoding a deduced DFos isoform showing a specific NH(2)-terminal region. To gain further insight into the function and the regulation of this gene, we have investigated the expression pattern of the two kay mRNA isoforms, kay-RA and kay-RB, during oogenesis and embryogenesis by whole-mount in situ hybridization. Results show that, although the two kay RNA isoforms display fully distinct patterns of transcription during oogenesis, they show partially overlapping expression profiles in embryos. These data reveal a previously unsuspected level of complexity in the regulation of the expression of the kay gene. In addition, they suggest a possible requirement for this gene in the invagination processes during early gastrula stages.