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Bidirectional Notch activation represses fusion competence in swarming adult Drosophila myoblasts
Boaz Gildor, Eyal D. Schejter, Ben-Zion Shilo


A major aspect of indirect flight muscle formation during adult Drosophila myogenesis involves transition of a semi-differentiated and proliferating pool of myoblasts to a mature myoblast population, capable of fusing with nascent myotubes and generating mature muscle fibers. Here we examine the molecular genetic programs underlying these two phases of myoblast differentiation. We show that the cell adhesion proteins Dumbfounded (Duf) and Sticks and stones (Sns), together with their paralogs Roughest (Rst) and Hibris (Hbs), respectively, are required for adhesion of migrating myoblasts to myotubes and initiation of myoblast-myotube fusion. As myoblasts approach their myotube targets, they are maintained in a semi-differentiated state by continuous Notch activation, where each myoblast provides the ligand Delta to its neighbors. This unique form of bidirectional Notch activation is achieved by finely tuning the levels of the ligand and receptor. Activation of Notch signaling in myoblasts represses expression of key fusion elements such as Sns. Only upon reaching the vicinity of the myotubes does Notch signaling decay, leading to terminal differentiation of the myoblasts. The ensuing induction of proteins required for fusion enables myoblasts to fuse with the myotubes and give rise to subsequent muscle fiber growth.


  • Funding

    This work was funded by an Israel Science Foundation grant to B.-Z.S. and E.D.S., and by a Muscular Dystrophy Association grant to B.-Z.S. B.-Z.S. is an incumbent of the Hilda and Cecil Lewis chair in Molecular Genetics.

  • Competing interests statement

    The authors declare no competing financial interests.

  • Supplementary material

    Supplementary material available online at http://dev.biologists.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.1242/dev.077495/-/DC1

  • Accepted August 6, 2012.
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