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Mech Dev. 2007 Apr;124(4):318-26. Epub 2006 Dec 29.

Model for the regulation of size in the wing imaginal disc of Drosophila.

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Zoological Institute, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland.


For animal development it is necessary that organs stop growing after they reach a certain size. However, it is still largely unknown how this termination of growth is regulated. The wing imaginal disc of Drosophila serves as a commonly used model system to study the regulation of growth. Paradoxically, it has been observed that growth occurs uniformly throughout the disc, even though Decapentaplegic (Dpp), a key inducer of growth, forms a gradient. Here, we present a model for the control of growth in the wing imaginal disc, which can account for the uniform occurrence and termination of growth. A central feature of the model is that net growth is not only regulated by growth factors, but by mechanical forces as well. According to the model, growth factors like Dpp induce growth in the center of the disc, which subsequently causes a tangential stretching of surrounding peripheral regions. Above a certain threshold, this stretching stimulates growth in these peripheral regions. Since the stretching is not completely compensated for by the induced growth, the peripheral regions will compress the center of the disc, leading to an inhibition of growth in the center. The larger the disc, the stronger this compression becomes and hence the stronger the inhibiting effect. Growth ceases when the growth factors can no longer overcome this inhibition. With numerical simulations we show that the model indeed yields uniform growth. Furthermore, the model can also account for other experimental data on growth in the wing disc.

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