Scaling between specific organs and overall body size has long fascinated biologists, being a primary mechanism by which organ shapes evolve. Yet, the genetic mechanisms that underlie the evolution of scaling relationships remain elusive. Here, we compared wing and fore tibia lengths (the latter as a proxy of body size) in Drosophila melanogaster, Drosophila simulans, Drosophila ananassae and Drosophila virilis, and show that the first three of these species have roughly a similar wing-to-tibia scaling behavior. In contrast, D. virilis exhibits much smaller wings relative to their body size compared with the other species and this is reflected in the intercept of the wing-to-tibia allometry. We then asked whether the evolution of this relationship could be explained by changes in a specific cis-regulatory region or enhancer that drives expression of the wing selector gene, vestigial (vg), whose function is broadly conserved in insects and contributes to wing size. To test this hypothesis directly, we used CRISPR/Cas9 to replace the DNA sequence of the predicted Quadrant Enhancer (vgQE) from D. virilis for the corresponding vgQE sequence in the genome of D. melanogaster. Strikingly, we discovered that D. melanogaster flies carrying the D. virilis vgQE sequence have wings that are significantly smaller with respect to controls, partially shifting the intercept of the wing-to-tibia scaling relationship towards that observed in D. virilis. We conclude that a single cis-regulatory element in D. virilis contributes to constraining wing size in this species, supporting the hypothesis that scaling could evolve through genetic variations in cis-regulatory elements.

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