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Dev Biol. 2004 May 1;269(1):1-17.

A hidden program in Drosophila peripheral neurogenesis revealed: fundamental principles underlying sensory organ diversity.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 545 Life Sciences Addition, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-3200, USA.


How is cell fate diversity reliably achieved during development? Insect sensory organs have been a favorable model system for investigating this question for over 100 years. They are constructed using defined cell lineages that generate a maximum of cell diversity with a minimum number of cell divisions, and display tremendous variety in their morphologies, constituent cell types, and functions. An unexpected realization of the past 5 years is that very diverse sensory organs in Drosophila are produced by astonishingly similar cell lineages, and that their diversity can be largely attributed to only a small repertoire of developmental processes. These include changes in terminal cell differentiation, cell death, cell proliferation, cell recruitment, cell-cell interactions, and asymmetric segregation of cell fate determinants during mitosis. We propose that most Drosophila sensory organs are built from an archetypal lineage, and we speculate about how this stereotyped pattern of cell divisions may have been built during evolution.

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