Intercellular junctions during development and in tissue cultures ofDrosophila melanogaster: An electron-microscopic study
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The present investigation analyzes intercellular junctions in tissues with different developmental capacities. The distribution of junctions was studied inDrosophila embryos, in imaginal disks, and in cultures of disk cells that were no longer able to differentiate any specific pattern of the adult epidermis.
The first junctions —primitive desmosomes andclose membrane appositions — already appear in blastoderm.Gap junctions are first detected in early gastrulae and later become more and more frequent.Zonulae adhaerentes are formed around 6 h after fertilization, whileseptate junctions appear in the ectoderm of 10-h-old embryos.
Inwing disks of all stages studied (22–120 h), three types of junctions are found: zonulae adhaereentes, gap junctions, and septate junctions. Gap junctions, which are rare and small at 22 h, increase in number and size during larval development. The other types of junctions are found between all cells of a wing disk throughout development.
All types of junctions that are found in normal wing disks are also present in theimaginal disk tissues cultured in vivo for some 15 years and in thevesicles of imaginal disk cells grown in embryonic primary cultures in vitro. However, gap junctions are smaller and in the vesicles less frequent than in wing disks of mature larvae.
Thus gap junctions, which allow small molecules to pass between the cells they connect, are present in the early embryo, when the first developmental decisions take place, and in all imaginal disk tissues studied, irrespective of whether or not these are capable of forming normal patterns.
Key wordsImaginal disks Intercellular junctions Determination Pattern formation Drosophila
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