GFP in living animals reveals dynamic developmental responses to ecdysone during Drosophila metamorphosis

Dev Biol. 2003 Apr 15;256(2):389-402. doi: 10.1016/s0012-1606(02)00100-8.


Studies of Drosophila metamorphosis have been hampered by our inability to visualize many of the remarkable changes that occur within the puparium. To circumvent this problem, we have expressed GFP in specific tissues of living prepupae and pupae and compiled images of these animals into time-lapse movies. These studies reveal, for the first time, the dynamics and coordination of morphogenetic movements that could only be inferred from earlier studies of dissected staged animals. We also identify responses that have not been described previously. These include an unexpected variation in some wild-type animals, where one of the first pairs of legs elongates in the wrong position relative to the second pair of legs and then relocates to its appropriate location. At later stages, the antennal imaginal discs migrate from a lateral position in the head to their final location at the anterior end, as leg and mouth structures are refined and the wings begin to fold. The larval salivary glands translocate toward the dorsal aspect of the animal and undergo massive cell death following head eversion, in synchrony with death of the abdominal muscles. These death responses fail to occur in rbp(5) mutants of the Broad-Complex (BR-C), and imaginal disc elongation and eversion is abolished in br(5) mutants of the BR-C. Leg malformations associated with the crol(3) mutation can be seen to arise from defects in imaginal disc morphogenesis during prepupal stages. This approach provides a new tool for characterizing the dynamic morphological changes that occur during metamorphosis in both wild-type and mutant animals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila / embryology
  • Drosophila / metabolism*
  • Ecdysone / metabolism*
  • Extremities / embryology
  • Extremities / growth & development
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Larva / metabolism
  • Luminescent Proteins / metabolism*
  • Metamorphosis, Biological / physiology*
  • Muscles / metabolism
  • Pupa / metabolism
  • Salivary Glands / metabolism


  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Ecdysone