Autophagy can promote but is not required for epithelial cell extrusion in the amnioserosa of the Drosophila embryo

Autophagy. 2012 Feb 1;8(2):252-64. doi: 10.4161/auto.8.2.18618. Epub 2012 Feb 1.


During Drosophila embryogenesis the majority of the extra-embryonic epithelium known as the amnioserosa (AS) undergoes programmed cell death (PCD) following the completion of the morphogenetic process of dorsal closure. Approximately ten percent of AS cells, however, are eliminated during dorsal closure by extrusion from the epithelium. Using biosensors that report autophagy and caspase activity in vivo, we demonstrate that AS cell extrusion occurs in the context of elevated autophagy and caspase activation. Furthermore, we evaluate AS extrusion rates, autophagy, and caspase activation in embryos in which caspase activity or autophagy are altered by genetic manipulation. This includes using the GAL4/UAS system to drive expression of p35, reaper, dINR (ACT) and Atg1 in the AS; we also analyze embryos lacking both maternal and zygotic expression of Atg1. Based on our results we suggest that autophagy can promote, but is not required for, epithelial extrusion and caspase activation in the amnioserosa.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amnion / cytology*
  • Amnion / embryology*
  • Amnion / enzymology
  • Amnion / ultrastructure
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Autophagy*
  • Biosensing Techniques
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • Cell Communication
  • Cell Polarity
  • Cell Shape
  • Drosophila melanogaster / cytology*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / embryology*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / cytology*
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / enzymology
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / ultrastructure
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology*
  • Epithelial Cells / ultrastructure
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Proteolysis


  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Caspases