Drosophila Developmental Genetics

Dorsal closure and heart development

The Drosophila heart is a linear structure composed of two cell types: two inner rows of cardioblasts and two outer rows of pericardial cells.  These cells are specified at stage 11, at which time the heart precursors form continuous rows on both sides of the embryo. In order to coalesce the heart cells contact the ectoderm layer adjacent to its leading edges and make use of dorsal closure events to move dorsally towards each other. By stage 16 the heart cells meet at the dorsal midline, subsets of cells undergo specific differentiation patterns and the heart starts beating.

The lipid phosphate phosphatase Wun2 is strongly expressed in the Drosophila heart and in wunen mutant embryos the heart fails to form properly. Our goal is to discern the lipids and their role in heart formation and to understand how defects in lipid signaling impair heart function.

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