Collaborative Resources for
Learning Developmental Biology
Collaborative Resources for Learning Developmental Biology
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Drosophila Somatic Muscle
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Aaron Johnson
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Organisms: Model Organisms
Tools & Techniques: Visualizing Genes/ Proteins
Mesoderm-derived: Muscle
Organism: Drosophila
Stage of Development: Embryo

Object Description

The somatic musculature of Drosophila melanogaster embryos is visualized using a Myosin Heavy Chain-GFP transgene which is expressed in all somatic muscles.  This embryo is oriented with anterior to the left and dorsal up.  Drosophila somatic muscles are the body wall muscles that direct contraction of the exoskeleton.  Somatic muscle is analogous to vertebrate skeletal muscle in that it is striated, multinucleate, and under voluntary control.  Each embryonic segment develops thirty distinct somatic muscles.  Notice that the pattern of the thirty somatic muscles is repeated in each segment.  Somatic muscle development initiates with the specification of ‘founder cells’ in the early mesoderm.  A single founder cell will give rise to one of the thirty muscles in each segment.  Once specified, the founder cells fuse with their neighboring fusion competent cells to form multinucleate myotubes.  These myotubes will then elongate, mature into myofibers, and attach to tendon cells in the epidermis via myotendinous junctions.  Once attached to the tendon, somatic muscle contraction will effect changes in the exoskeleton.   


Schejter, E.D., and Baylies, M.K. Born to run: creating the muscle fiber. Curr Opin Cell Biol, (2010), 22, 566-574.

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