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Collaborative Resources for Learning Developmental Biology
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Drosophila Mechanosensory Bristle Development
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Andreas Wodarz

Additional Author(s): Volker Hartenstein

Published on SDB CoRe: Mar 6 2013

Ectoderm-derived: Nervous System
Organism: Drosophila
Stage of Development: Embryo

Object Description

Drosophila mechanosensory bristles (sensilla) are built of small groups of specialized cells. These cells include the sensory neuron and the support cells that form the cuticular apparatus (bristle shaft and socket) and the glial sheath surrounding the neuron (A). All cells of a bristle represent a clone descending from a single sensillum progenitor, pI (B). Sensillum progenitors appear in the larval imaginal discs that give rise to the adult fly body wall. During its first mitosis, pI produces two daughter cells, pIIa and pIIb. pIIa divides into the support cells forming the sensillum shaft and socket (tr, to). pIIb gives rise to the neuron (ne), glial cell (gl), and inner sheath cell (th). The large mechanosensory bristles (macrochaetes) are distributed according to an invariant pattern on the dorsal fly thorax (C) and are individually named (anp anterior notopleural; apa anterior postalar; pdc posterior dorsocentral; pnp posterior notopleural; psc posterior scutellar). The position of each bristle is foreshadowed by a proneural cluster, defined by the expression of the proneural gene scute, in the imaginal disc that gives rise to the thorax and wing (D). All cells of a proneural cluster are competent to form a pI, followed by a bristle; activity of Notch-Delta signaling within each cluster restricts the number of emerging pI progenitors to one per cluster. WIREs Dev Biol 2013. DOI: 10.1002/wdev.111


Hartenstein, V., Wodarz, A. Initial neurogenesis in Drosophila. WIREs Dev Biol, 2013, Published Online: Feb 11 2013.

Panel C adapted from: Ferris, G.F. External morphology of the adult. In: Biology of Drosophila (Ed. M. Demerec). New York, Hafner Publishing Company, 1965.

Panel D reproduced with permission from: Cubas P., de Celis J.F., Campuzano S., Modolell J. Proneural clusters of achaete-scute expression and the generation of sensory organs in the Drosophila imaginal wing disc. Genes Dev, 1991, 5:996-1008.

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