In vitro culture of Drosophila imaginal disc cells: aggregation, sorting out, and differentiative abilities

Dev Biol. 1987 Mar;120(1):284-93. doi: 10.1016/0012-1606(87)90125-4.


This paper describes the aggregation in vitro of cells dissociated from imaginal discs and demonstrates the sorting out of undifferentiated cells from different imaginal discs and from differently determined regions of the same imaginal disc, as well as the abilities of such cells to undergo pattern reconstruction when injected into larvae. Dissociated cells begin to aggregate by 1.5 hr of rotation. By 5 hr of rotation, large aggregates of loosely associated cells appear. By 18 hr the aggregates have condensed and taken on a characteristic epithelial structure. To study sorting out in undifferentiated cells, we combined a histochemical stain for acid phosphatase with the use of the acid phosphatase null mutant acphn-11. We performed cell mixing experiments with 0-2 (prospective notum) and 2-8 (prospective wing) fragments, with the A and P (prospective anterior and posterior) fragments of the dorsal mesothoracic disc and with mixtures of cells from ventral prothoracic and dorsal mesothoracic discs. We found that prospective anterior and posterior dorsal mesothoracic cells do not sort out, but that prospective notum and wing and leg and wing cells do. The results from differentiated implants are consistent with those from undifferentiated mixes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acid Phosphatase / analysis
  • Animals
  • Cell Aggregation
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Drosophila / cytology*
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Drosophila / growth & development
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Extremities / cytology
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Larva / cytology
  • Mosaicism
  • Mutation
  • Thorax / cytology
  • Time Factors
  • Wings, Animal / cytology


  • Acid Phosphatase