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Development. 1990 Nov;110(3):791-804.

The embryonic development of larval muscles in Drosophila.

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  • 1Department of Zoology, Cambridge, UK.


Each of the abdominal hemisegments A2-A7 in the Drosophila larva has a stereotyped pattern of 30 muscles. The pattern is complete by 13 h after egg laying, but the development of individual muscles has begun with the definition of precursors at least by the onset of germ band shortening, some 5.5 h earlier. The earliest signs of muscle differentiation are cell fusions, which occur in the ventralmost mesoderm overlying the CNS and at stereotyped positions in the rest of the mesoderm as the germ band shortens. At the end of shortening, the pattern of muscle precursors produced by these fusions is complete. Precursors filled with dye reveal extensive fine processes probably involved initially in cell fusion and, subsequently, in navigation over the epidermis to form attachment points. The muscle pattern is formed before innervation and without cell death. Thus, neither of these processes is involved in determining the distribution of precursors. Evidence is presented for the view that the development of the larval muscle pattern in Drosophila depends on a prior segregation of founder cells at appropriate locations in the mesoderm with which other cells fuse to form the precursors.

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