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Dev Dyn. 2010 Sep;239(9):2509-19. doi: 10.1002/dvdy.22386.

Echinoid regulates tracheal morphology and fusion cell fate in Drosophila.

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Department of Biology, McGill University, Montréal, QC, Canada.


Morphogenesis of the Drosophila embryonic trachea involves a stereotyped pattern of epithelial tube branching and fusion. Here, we report unexpected phenotypes resulting from maternal and zygotic (M/Z) loss of the homophilic cell adhesion molecule Echinoid (Ed), as well as the subcellular localization of Ed in the trachea. ed(M/Z) embryos have convoluted trachea reminiscent of septate junction (SJ) and luminal matrix mutants. However, Ed does not localize to SJs, and ed(M/Z) embryos have intact SJs and show normal luminal accumulation of the matrix-modifying protein Vermiform. Surprisingly, tracheal length is not increased in ed(M/Z) mutants, but a previously undescribed combination of reduced intersegmental spacing and deep epidermal grooves produces a convoluted tracheal phenotype. In addition, ed(M/Z) mutants have unique fusion defects involving supernumerary fusion cells, ectopic fusion events and atypical branch breaks. Tracheal-specific expression of Ed rescues these fusion defects, indicating that Ed acts in trachea to control fusion cell fate.

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