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Curr Biol. 2003 Aug 19;13(16):1365-77.

Mechanical induction of Twist in the Drosophila foregut/stomodeal primordium.

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Mechanics and Genetics of Developmental Embryogenesis Group, Unité Mixte de Recherche 168 Physico-Chimie Curie, Curie Institute, 11 rue Pierre et Marie Curie, 75005 Paris, France.



Morphogenetic movements are closely regulated by the expression of developmental genes. Here I examine whether developmental gene expression can in turn be mechanically regulated by morphogenetic movements. I have analyzed the effects of mechanical stress on the expression of Twist, which is normally expressed only in the most ventral cells of the cellular blastoderm embryo under the control of the Dorsal morphogen gradient. At embryogenesis gastrulation (stage 7), Twist is also expressed in the anterior foregut and stomodeal primordia.


Submitting the early Drosophila embryo to a transient 10% uniaxial lateral deformation induces the ectopic expression of Twist around the entire dorsal-ventral axis and results in the ventralization of the embryo. This induction is independent of the Dorsal gradient and is triggered by mechanically induced Armadillo nuclear translocation. I also show that Twist is not expressed in the anterior foregut and stomodeal primordia at stage 7 in mutants that block the morphogenetic movement of germ-band extension. Because I can rescue the mutants with gentle compression of these cells, my interpretation is that the stomodeal-cell compression normally caused by the germ-band extension induces the expression of Twist. Correspondingly, laser ablation of dorsal cells in wild-type embryos relaxes stomodeal cell compression and reduces Twist expression in the stomodeal primordium. I also demonstrate that the induction of Twist in these cells depends on the nuclear translocation of Armadillo.


I propose that anterior-gut formation is mechanically induced by the movement of germ-band extension through the induction of Twist expression in stomodeal cells.

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