Bringing together components of the fly renal system

Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2009 Oct;19(5):526-32. doi: 10.1016/j.gde.2009.08.006. Epub 2009 Sep 25.


The function of all animal excretory systems is to rid the body of toxins and to maintain homeostatic balance. Although excretory organs in diverse animal species appear superficially different they are often built on two common principals: filtration and tubular secretion/reabsorbtion. The Drosophila excretory system is composed of filtration nephrocytes and Malpighian (renal) tubules. Here we review recent molecular genetic data on the development and differentiation of nephrocytes and renal tubules. We focus in particular on the molecular mechanisms that underpin key cell and tissue behaviours during morphogenesis, drawing parallels with other species where they exist. Finally we assess the implications of patterned tissue differentiation for the subsequent regulation of renal function. These studies highlight the continuing usefulness of the fly to provide fundamental insights into the complexities of organ formation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila / embryology*
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian
  • Kidney / embryology*
  • Kidney / physiology
  • Models, Biological
  • Urinary Tract / embryology*
  • Urinary Tract Physiological Phenomena
  • Urination / physiology