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Cell. 1996 Nov 15;87(4):639-49.

Nitric oxide regulates cell proliferation during Drosophila development.

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Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, New York 11724, USA.


Cell division and subsequent programmed cell death in imaginal discs of Drosophila larvae determine the final size of organs and structures of the adult fly. We show here that nitric oxide (NO) is involved in controlling the size of body structures during Drosophila development. We have found that NO synthase (NOS) is expressed at high levels in developing imaginal discs. Inhibition of NOS in larvae causes hypertrophy of organs and their segments in adult flies, whereas ectopic expression of NOS in larvae has the opposite effect. Blocking apoptosis in eye imaginal discs unmasks surplus cell proliferation and results in an increase in the number of ommatidia and component cells of individual ommatidia. These results argue that NO acts as an antiproliferative agent during Drosophila development, controlling the balance between cell proliferation and cell differentiation.

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