Hox control of Drosophila larval anatomy; The Alary and Thoracic Alary-Related Muscles

Mech Dev. 2015 Nov;138 Pt 2:170-176. doi: 10.1016/j.mod.2015.07.005. Epub 2015 Jul 26.


The body plan of arthropods and vertebrates involves the formation of repetitive segments, which subsequently diversify to give rise to different body parts along the antero-posterior/rostro-caudal body axis. Anatomical variations between body segments are crucial for organ function and organismal fitness. Pioneering work in Drosophila has established that Hox transcription factors play key roles both in endowing initially identical segments with distinct identities and organogenesis. The focus of this review is on Alary Muscles (AMs) and the newly discovered Thoracic Alary-Related Muscles (TARMs). AMs and TARMs are thin muscles which together connect the circulatory system and different midgut regions to the exoskeleton, while intertwining with the respiratory tubular network. They were hypothesized to represent a new type of muscles with spring-like properties, maintaining internal organs in proper anatomical positions during larval locomotion. Both the morphology of TARMs relative to AMs, and morphogenesis of connected tissues is under Hox control, emphasizing the key role of Hox proteins in coordinating the anatomical development of the larva.

Keywords: Alary Muscles; Hox proteins; Myogenesis; Organogenesis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Patterning / genetics*
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics*
  • Genes, Homeobox / genetics*
  • Larva / genetics*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology*
  • Thoracic Arteries / physiology*


  • Drosophila Proteins