A Drosophila gene encoding a gamma-type isozyme of phosphoinositide-specific phospholipase C (PLC) was isolated and characterized. The gene, termed plc-gamma d, was mapped at position 14B-C of the X chromosome. The encoded protein, termed PLC-gamma D, contains X and Y regions, common to all known PLC isozymes. The two regions are split by a Z region that comprises two src homology 2 and one src homology 3 domains and is characteristic of gamma-type mammalian PLC (PLC-gamma 1 and -gamma 2). The deduced amino acid sequence of PLC-gamma D shows overall similarity to mammalian PLC-gamma s; no large deletion was observed except the short C-terminal extended region. In particular, the two split catalytic domains (X and Y regions) and the regulatory Z region including the src homology 2 and src homology 3 domains are well conserved. The mRNA is expressed throughout development, but expression is relatively higher during the embryonic stage, suggesting fundamental and important roles in both cell proliferation and differentiation. Distribution of the mRNA during embryogenesis, as analyzed by whole amount in situ hybridization, revealed that the mRNA emerges and reaches maximum levels at the cellular blastoderm stage and then decreases rapidly to a lower level. In later embryonic stages, invaginated anterior and posterior midgut primordia show high levels of mRNA expression, and fused midgut also maintains a high level of expression. In other tissues and cells, the mRNA was detected at lower levels. These results indicate that Drosophila PLC-gamma may be involved in universal cellular processes mediated possibly by receptor tyrosine kinases during embryogenesis and may also play specific roles during cellularization and midgut differentiation.