The transmembrane receptor Uncoordinated5 (Unc5) is essential for heart lumen formation in Drosophila melanogaster

Dev Biol. 2011 Feb 1;350(1):89-100. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2010.11.016. Epub 2010 Nov 20.


Transport of liquids or gases in biological tubes is fundamental for many physiological processes. Our knowledge on how tubular organs are formed during organogenesis and tissue remodeling has increased dramatically during the last decade. Studies on different animal systems have helped to unravel some of the molecular mechanisms underlying tubulogenesis. Tube architecture varies dramatically in different organs and different species, ranging from tubes formed by several cells constituting the cross section, tubes formed by single cells wrapping an internal luminal space or tubes that are formed within a cell. Some tubes display branching whereas others remain linear without intersections. The modes of shaping, growing and pre-patterning a tube are also different and it is still not known whether these diverse architectures and modes of differentiation are realized by sharing common signaling pathways or regulatory networks. However, several recent investigations provide evidence for the attractive hypothesis that the Drosophila cardiogenesis and heart tube formation shares many similarities with primary angiogenesis in vertebrates. Additionally, another important step to unravel the complex system of lumen formation has been the outcome of recent studies that junctional proteins, matrix components as well as proteins acting as attractant and repellent cues play a role in the formation of the Drosophila heart lumen. In this study we show the requirement for the repulsively active Unc5 transmembrane receptor to facilitate tubulogenesis in the dorsal vessel of Drosophila. Unc5 is localized in the luminal membrane compartment of cardiomyocytes and animals lacking Unc5 fail to form a heart lumen. Our findings support the idea that Unc5 is crucial for lumen formation and thereby represents a repulsive cue acting during Drosophila heart tube formation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / cytology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / embryology*
  • Heart / embryology*
  • Ligands
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / cytology
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / metabolism
  • Nerve Growth Factors / metabolism
  • Netrin Receptors
  • Netrin-1
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / genetics
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism*
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / metabolism


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Ligands
  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • Netrin Receptors
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • unc-5 protein, Drosophila
  • Netrin-1