Diversification of muscle types in Drosophila embryos

Exp Cell Res. 2022 Jan 1;410(1):112950. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2021.112950. Epub 2021 Nov 26.


Drosophila embryonic somatic muscles represent a simple and tractable model system to study the gene regulatory networks that control diversification of cell types. Somatic myogenesis in Drosophila is initiated by intrinsic action of the mesodermal master gene twist, which activates a cascade of transcriptional outputs including myogenic differentiation factor Mef2, which triggers all aspects of the myogenic differentiation program. In parallel, the expression of a combinatorial code of identity transcription factors (iTFs) defines discrete particular features of each muscle fiber, such as number of fusion events, and specific attachment to tendon cells or innervation, thus ensuring diversification of muscle types. Here, we take the example of a subset of lateral transverse (LT) muscles and discuss how the iTF code and downstream effector genes progressively define individual LT properties such as fusion program, attachment and innervation. We discuss new challenges in the field including the contribution of posttranscriptional and epitranscriptomic regulation of gene expression in the diversification of cell types.

Keywords: Diversification; Drosophila; Identity genes; LT muscle; Realizator genes; Somatic muscle.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / growth & development
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian
  • Embryonic Development / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / genetics
  • Mesoderm / growth & development
  • Mesoderm / metabolism
  • Muscle Development / genetics*
  • Muscles / metabolism
  • Myogenic Regulatory Factors / genetics*


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Mef2 protein, Drosophila
  • Myogenic Regulatory Factors