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Dev Biol. 2012 Sep 1;369(1):76-90. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2012.05.025. Epub 2012 Jun 5.

The three leg imaginal discs of Drosophila: "Vive la différence".

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Department of Biology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.


The imaginal discs of Drosophila are the larval primordia for the adult cuticular structures of the adult fly. Fate maps of different discs have been generated that show the localization of prospective adult structures. Even though the three legs differ in their morphology, only the fate map for the T1 (prothoracic) leg disc has been generated. Here we present fate maps for the T2 (meso-) and T3 (metathoracic) leg discs. We show that there are many similarities to the map of the T1 leg disc. However, there are also significant differences in the contributions of each disc to the thorax, in the morphology of joints connecting the legs to the thorax, in bristle patterns, and in the positioning of some sensory organs. We also tested the developmental potential of disc fragments and observed that T2 and T3 leg discs have more limited plasticity and are unable to transdetermine. The differences in the cuticle patterns between legs are robust and conserved in many species of dipterans. While most previous analyses of imaginal disc development have not distinguished between the different leg discs, we believe that the underlying differences of the three leg discs demonstrated here cannot be ignored when studying leg disc development.

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