Active muscle migration during insect metamorphosis

Tissue Cell. 1984;16(3):411-32. doi: 10.1016/0040-8166(84)90060-0.


The R1 abdominal retractor muscles of the insect Tenebrio molitor change position during the course of metamorphosis. These muscles detach from the epidermal tendon cells at their anterior ends, and migrate in a posterior direction, parallel to the body axis, to form completely new attachments shortly before adult emergence. Movement is preceded by the loss of sarcomere structure, and the muscles migrate in a partially dedifferentiated condition, closely accompanied by satellite cells and haemocytes. Movement appears to result from the extension of muscle processes towards the epidermis posterior to the larval attachment sites, which contact reciprocal processes extended from the epidermis. Contacts at the new posterior sites are then reinforced, and relinquished at the anterior. This cycle is subsequently repeated. It is envisaged that migration ceases when the muscles encounter a contour in the epidermal gradient known to specify the position of the adult muscle attachment sites. This positional information may be encoded in the epidermal basal lamina. The muscles then redifferentiate, with concurrent differentiation of new epidermal tendon cells. Development of adult muscle attachments appears to require reciprocal morphogenetic interactions between muscle and epidermis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Insecta / cytology*
  • Insecta / physiology
  • Larva
  • Metamorphosis, Biological*
  • Movement
  • Muscles / cytology*
  • Muscles / physiology
  • Muscles / ultrastructure
  • Regeneration