Apoptosis controls the speed of looping morphogenesis in Drosophila male terminalia

Erina Kuranaga, Takayuki Matsunuma, Hirotaka Kanuka, Kiwamu Takemoto, Akiko Koto, Ken Ichi Kimura, Masayuki Miura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


In metazoan development, the precise mechanisms that regulate the completion of morphogenesis according to a developmental timetable remain elusive. The Drosophila male terminalia is an asymmetric looping organ; the internal genitalia (spermiduct) loops dextrally around the hindgut. Mutants for apoptotic signaling have an orientation defect of their male terminalia, indicating that apoptosis contributes to the looping morphogenesis. However, the physiological roles of apoptosis in the looping morphogenesis of male terminalia have been unclear. Here, we show the role of apoptosis in the organogenesis of male terminalia using time-lapse imaging. In normal flies, genitalia rotation accelerated as development proceeded, and completed a full 360° rotation. This acceleration was impaired when the activity of caspases or JNK or PVF/PVR signaling was reduced. Acceleration was induced by two distinct subcompartments of the A8 segment that formed a ring shape and surrounded the male genitalia: the inner ring rotated with the genitalia and the outer ring rotated later, functioning as a 'moving walkway' to accelerate the inner ring rotation. A quantitative analysis combining the use of a FRET-based indicator for caspase activation with single-cell tracking showed that the timing and degree of apoptosis correlated with the movement of the outer ring, and upregulation of the apoptotic signal increased the speed of genital rotation. Therefore, apoptosis coordinates the outer ring movement that drives the acceleration of genitalia rotation, thereby enabling the complete morphogenesis of male genitalia within a limited developmental time frame.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1493-1499
Number of pages7
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Apr
Externally publishedYes


  • Apoptosis
  • Caspase
  • Drosophila
  • In vivo imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology


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