Lamellipodia-based migrations of larval epithelial cells are required for normal closure of the adult epidermis of Drosophila

Dev Biol. 2012 Mar 1;363(1):179-90. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2011.12.033. Epub 2011 Dec 29.


Cell migrations are an important feature of animal development. They are, furthermore, essential to wound healing and tumour progression. Despite recent progress, it is still mysterious how cell migration is spatially and temporally regulated during morphogenesis and how cell migration is coordinated with other cellular behaviours to shape tissues and organs. The formation of the abdominal epithelium of Drosophila during metamorphosis provides an attractive system to study morphogenesis. Here, the diploid adult histoblasts replace the polyploid larval epithelial cells (LECs). Using in vivo 4D microscopy, I show that, besides apical constriction and apoptosis, the LECs undergo extensive coordinated migrations. The migrations follow a transition from a stationary (epithelial) to a migratory mode. The migratory behaviour is stimulated by autocrine Dpp signalling. Directed apical lamellipodia-like protrusions propel the cells. Initially, planar cell polarity determines the orientation of LEC migration. While LECs are migrating they also constrict apically, and changes in activity of the small GTPase Rho1 can favour one behaviour over the other. This study shows that the LECs play a more active role in morphogenesis than previously thought, with their migrations contributing to abdominal closure. It furthermore provides insights into how the migratory behaviour of cells is regulated during morphogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Autocrine Communication
  • Cell Movement / genetics
  • Cell Movement / physiology*
  • Cell Polarity
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / growth & development
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism*
  • Epidermal Cells
  • Epidermis / growth & development
  • Epidermis / metabolism*
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Epithelial Cells / physiology*
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Larva / cytology
  • Larva / genetics
  • Larva / physiology
  • Microscopy, Confocal / methods
  • Morphogenesis
  • Pseudopodia / genetics
  • Pseudopodia / physiology*
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • dpp protein, Drosophila
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Rho1 protein, Drosophila
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins