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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Aug 5;105(31):10832-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0805111105. Epub 2008 Jul 29.

Organ renewal and cell divisions by differentiated cells in Drosophila.

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Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94158, USA.


For many organs, the processes of renewal and regeneration recruit stem cells to replace differentiated, postmitotic cells, but the capacity of an organ's differentiated cells to divide and contribute is uncertain. Most cells of the Drosophila adult are the descendants of dedicated precursors that divide and replace larval cells that are histolyzed during metamorphosis. We investigated the provenance of cells that reconstitute the second thoracic metamere of the tracheal system (Tr2). These cells contribute the precursors for Branchless(FGF)-dependent growth of the dorsal air sacs, the major tracheal organs of the adult fly. We found that, in contrast to the cells in other tracheal metameres that proceed through many cycles of endoreplication, the cells that constitute the Tr2 branches in young larvae do not. Like the cells in other tracheal metameres, these cells arrest mitotic cycling in the embryo and form differentiated, air-filled tracheal branches of the larva. We report here that they reinitiate cell divisions during the third instar (L3) to increase the Tr2 population by approximately 10-fold with multipotent cells.

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