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The Art in Science

Product Image Winging It

Winging It

Andrea Ramos-Serrano, Graduate Student (Barolo Laboratory), Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Michigan Medical School

This disc-like structure in the fly larva will eventually give rise to a wing. Amazingly, it is already patterned in a complex way: the right half will give rise to the posterior part of the wing, while the left half will generate the anterior half. These halves are separated by a red stripe that marks the expression domain of a single patterning gene. Similarly, a line drawn across the space between the two green expression domains separates the top of the wing (above this line) from the bottom of the wing (below the line). Understanding how these unique gene expression patterns are generated provides critical information about how organs and tissues develop in their characteristic shapes. Mis-expression of patterning genes such as the ones marked by these red and green domains can cause several developmental defects or cancer.