Apical and lateral cell protrusions interconnect epithelial cells in live Drosophila wing imaginal discs

Dev Dyn. 2007 Dec;236(12):3408-18. doi: 10.1002/dvdy.21324.


Communication among cells by means of the exchange of signaling cues is important for tissue and organ development. Recent reports indicate that one way that signaling cues can be delivered is by movement along cellular protrusions interconnecting cells. Here, by using confocal laser scanning microscopy and three-dimensional rendering, we describe in Drosophila melanogaster wing imaginal discs lateral protrusions interconnecting cells of the columnar epithelium. Moreover, we identified protrusions of the apical surface of columnar cells that reached and apparently contacted cells of the overlying squamous epithelium. Both apical and lateral protrusions could be visualized by expression of Tkv-GFP, a green fluorescent protein (GFP) -tagged version of a receptor of the Dpp/BMP4 signaling molecule, and the endosome marker GFP-Rab5. Our results demonstrate a previously unexpected richness of cellular protrusions within wing imaginal discs and support the view that cellular protrusions may provide a means for exchanging signaling cues between cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Base Sequence
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 4
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins / genetics
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Communication
  • DNA Primers / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism
  • Drosophila melanogaster / cytology*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / growth & development*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / genetics
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Wings, Animal / cytology*
  • Wings, Animal / growth & development*
  • Wings, Animal / metabolism
  • rab5 GTP-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • rab5 GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism


  • Actins
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 4
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins
  • DNA Primers
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • dpp protein, Drosophila
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • tkv protein, Drosophila
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • rab5 GTP-Binding Proteins