The ventral furrow and posterior midgut invaginations bring mesodermal and endodermal precursor cells into the interior of the Drosophila embryo during gastrulation. Both invaginations proceed through a similar sequence of rapid cell shape changes, which include apical flattening, constriction of the apical diameter, cell elongation and subsequent shortening. Based on the time course of apical constriction in the ventral furrow and posterior midgut, we identify two phases in this process: first, a slow stochastic phase in which some individual cells begin to constrict and, second, a rapid phase in which the remaining unconstricted cells constrict. Mutations in the concertina or folded gastrulation genes appear to block the transition to the second phase in both the ventral furrow and the posterior midgut invaginations.

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