The six Dorsal Longitudinal flight Muscles (DLMs) of Drosophila develop from three larval muscles that persist into metamorphosis and serve as scaffolds for the formation of the adult fibers. We have examined the effect of muscle scaffold ablation on the development of DLMs during metamorphosis. Using markers that are specific to muscle and myoblasts we show that in response to the ablation, myoblasts which would normally fuse with the larval muscle, fuse with each other instead, to generate the adult fibers in the appropriate regions of the thorax. The development of these de novo DLMs is delayed and is reflected in the delayed expression of erect wing, a transcription factor thought to control differentiation events associated with myoblast fusion. The newly arising muscles express the appropriate adult-specific Actin isoform (88F), indicating that they have the correct muscle identity. However, there are frequent errors in the number of muscle fibers generated. Ablation of the larval scaffolds for the DLMs has revealed an underlying potential of the DLM myoblasts to initiate de novo myogenesis in a manner that resembles the mode of formation of the Dorso-Ventral Muscles, DVMs, which are the other group of indirect flight muscles. Therefore, it appears that the use of larval scaffolds is a superimposition on a commonly used mechanism of myogenesis in Drosophila. Our results show that the role of the persistent larval muscles in muscle patterning involves the partitioning of DLM myoblasts, and in doing so, they regulate formation of the correct number of DLM fibers.

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