Here, we show for the first time that developmental cell death plays a critical role in the morphogenesis of multicellular proprioceptors in Drosophila. The most prominent multicellular proprioceptive organ in the fly larva, the pentascolopidial (LCh5) organ, consists of a cluster of five stretch-responsive sensory organs that are anchored to the cuticle via specialized attachment cells. Stable attachment of the organ to the cuticle is critical for its ability to perceive mechanical stimuli arising from muscle contractions and the resulting displacement of its attachment sites. We now show that five attachment cells are born within the LCh5 lineage, but three of them are rapidly eliminated, normally, by apoptosis. Strong genetic evidence attests to the existence of an autophagic gene-dependent safeguard mechanism that guarantees elimination of the unwanted cells upon perturbation of the apoptotic pathway prior to caspase liberation. The removal of the three superfluous cells guarantees the right ratio between the number of sensory organs and the number of attachment cells that anchor them to the cuticle. This accurate matching seems imperative for the attachment of cell growth and functionality and is thus vital for normal morphogenesis and functionality of the sensory organ.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology