Dpp, a member of the BMP family, is a morphogen that specifies positional information in Drosophila wing precursors. In this tissue, Dpp expressed along the anterior-posterior boundary forms a concentration gradient that controls the expression domains of target genes, which in turn specify the position of wing veins. Dpp also promotes growth in this tissue. The relationship between the spatio-temporal profile of Dpp signalling and growth has been the subject of debate, which has intensified recently with the suggestion that the stripe of Dpp is dispensable for growth. With two independent conditional alleles of dpp, we find that the stripe of Dpp is essential for wing growth. We then show that this requirement, but not patterning, can be fulfilled by uniform, low level, Dpp expression. Thus, the stripe of Dpp ensures that signalling remains above a pro-growth threshold, while at the same time generating a gradient that patterns cell fates.
Keywords: BMP; D. melanogaster; cell biology; developmental biology; growth; morphogen; stem cells.