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Integrins are required for cardioblast polarisation in Drosophila

Jessica Vanderploeg1, L Lourdes Vazquez Paz1, Allison MacMullin12 and J Roger Jacobs1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biology, McMaster University, 1280 Main St. W., Hamilton, ON L8S 4K1, Canada

2 Life Technologies, Burlington, ON L7L 5Z1, Canada

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BMC Developmental Biology 2012, 12:8  doi:10.1186/1471-213X-12-8

Published: 21 February 2012



The formation of a tubular organ, such as the heart, requires the communication of positional and polarity signals between migratory cells. Key to this process is the establishment of a new luminal domain on the cell surface, generally from the apical domain of a migratory cell. This domain will also acquire basal properties, as it will produce a luminal extracellular matrix. Integrin receptors are the primary means of cell adhesion and adhesion signaling with the extracellular matrix. Here we characterise the requirement of Integrins in a genetic model of vasculogenesis, the formation of the heart in Drosophila.


As with vertebrates, the Drosophila heart arises from lateral mesoderm that migrates medially to meet their contralateral partners, to then assemble a midline vessel. During migration, Integrins are among the first proteins restricted to the presumptive luminal domain of cardioblasts. Integrins are required for normal levels of leading edge membrane motility. Apical accumulation of Integrins is enhanced by Robo, and reciprocally, apicalisation of luminal factors like Slit and Robo requires Integrin function. Integrins may provide a template for the formation of a lumen by stabilising lumen factors like Robo. Subsequent to migration, Integrin is required for normal cardioblast alignment and lumen formation. This phenotype is most readily modified by other mutations that affect adhesion, such as Talin and extracellular matrix ligands.


Our findings reveal an instructive role for Integrins in communicating polarising information to cells during migration, and during transition to an epithelial tube structure.

Tubulogenesis; Lumen; Apical signaling; Integrin; Slit; Extracellular matrix; Cell polarity; Cell migration; Leading edge