Non-apoptotic function of Drosophila caspase activation in epithelial thorax closure and wound healing

Development. 2019 Feb 15;146(4):dev169037. doi: 10.1242/dev.169037.


Non-apoptotic caspase activation involves multiple cellular events. However, the link between visible non-apoptotic caspase activation and its function in living organisms has not yet been revealed. Here, we visualized sub-lethal activation of apoptotic signaling with the combination of a sensitive indicator for caspase 3 activation and in vivo live-imaging analysis of Drosophila During thorax closure in pupal development, caspase 3 activation was specifically observed at the leading edge cells, with no signs of apoptosis. Inhibition of caspase activation led to an increase in thorax closing speed, which suggests a role of non-apoptotic caspase activity in cell motility. Importantly, sub-lethal activation of caspase 3 was also observed during wound closure at the fusion sites at which thorax closure had previously taken place. Further genetic analysis revealed that the activation of the initiator caspase Dronc is coupled with the generation of reactive oxygen species. The activation of Dronc also regulates myosin levels and delays wound healing. Our findings suggest a possible function for non-apoptotic caspase activation in the fine-tuning of cell migratory behavior during epithelial closure.

Keywords: Drosophila; Epithelia; Live imaging; Non-apoptotic caspase activation; Thorax closure; Wound healing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis*
  • Caspases / metabolism*
  • Cell Movement
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / enzymology*
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Epithelium / embryology*
  • Epithelium / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • MAP Kinase Kinase 4 / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Thorax / embryology*
  • Thorax / metabolism
  • Wound Healing*


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • MAP Kinase Kinase 4
  • Caspases
  • dronc protein, Drosophila