Muscle organizers in Drosophila: the role of persistent larval fibers in adult flight muscle development

Dev Biol. 1996 Jun 15;176(2):220-9. doi: 10.1006/dbio.1996.0129.


In many organisms muscle formation depends on specialized cells that prefigure the pattern of the musculature and serve as templates for myoblast organization and fusion. These include muscle pioneers in insects and muscle organizing cells in leech. In Drosophila, muscle founder cells have been proposed to play a similar role in organizing larval muscle development during embryogenesis. During metamorphosis in Drosophila, following histolysis of most of the larval musculature, there is a second round of myogenesis that gives rise to the adult muscles. It is not known whether muscle founder cells organize the development of these muscles. However, in the thorax specific larval muscle fibers do not histolyze at the onset of metamorphosis, but instead serve as templates for the formation of a subset of adult muscles, the dorsal longitudinal flight muscles (DLMs). Because these persistent larval muscle fibers appear to be functioning in many respects like muscle founder cells, we investigated whether they were necessary for DLM development by using a microbeam laser to ablate them singly and in combination. We found that, in the absence of the larval muscle fibers, DLMs nonetheless develop. Our results show that the persistent larval muscle fibers are not required to initiate myoblast fusion, to determine DLM identity, to locate the DLMs in the thorax, or to specify the total DLM fiber volume. However, they are required to regulate the number of DLM fibers generated. Thus, while the persistent larval muscle fibers are not obligatory for DLM fiber formation and differentiation, they are necessary to ensure the development of the correct number of fibers.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Actins / genetics
  • Animals
  • Drosophila / growth & development*
  • Drosophila / metabolism
  • Flight, Animal
  • Galactosides / metabolism
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Indoles / metabolism
  • Lac Operon
  • Larva / growth & development
  • Lasers
  • Muscle Development*
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / radiation effects
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / ultrastructure
  • Muscles / metabolism
  • Muscles / radiation effects
  • Myosin Heavy Chains / genetics
  • beta-Galactosidase / genetics
  • beta-Galactosidase / metabolism


  • Actins
  • Galactosides
  • Indoles
  • beta-Galactosidase
  • Myosin Heavy Chains
  • 5-bromo-4-chloro-3-indolyl beta-galactoside