Introduction to Drosophila as a model for studying basement membranes

The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster has contributed greatly to our understanding of many fundamental concepts in biology. Perhaps the most recognised contribution is in genetics.

Over a hundred years ago Thomas Hunt Morgan’s laboratory at Columbia University demonstrated for the first time the chromosome theory of inheritance. To this day, the fly continues to be a highly tractable genetic system with 60% of all of its genes having been mutated to observe their effect on developmental and disease processes.

Furthermore, gene editing and transgenesis is easily achieved in flies and many of these techniques were pioneered in Drosophila. Other aspects that make fruit flies an excellent tool for researchers include its short life cycle (10 days), ease and cheapness of culturing and maintenance, and a small genome size.

Drosophila images were a kind gift from Sally Horne-Badovinac.

Labs with a focus on basement membrane research

Horne-Badovinac Lab Planar cell polarity, and basement membrane remodelling

Noselli Lab Epithelial morphogenesis

Pastor-Pareja Lab Roles of basement membranes in development

McCaw Lab Basement membrane healing and dynamics

Stramer Lab Basement membrane formation and cell migration

Helpful links

Key papers

  • Global tissue revolutions in a morphogenetic movement controlling elongation. Haigo, SL and Bilder, D. Science. 2011 Feb 25. PMID: 21212324
  • Type IV collagens regulate BMP signalling in Drosophila. Wang, X et al. Nature. 2008 Sep 4. PMID: 18701888
  • Rab10-Mediated Secretion Synergizes with Tissue Movement to Build a Polarized Basement Membrane Architecture for Organ Morphogenesis. Isabella, AJ and Horne-Badovinac, S. Dev Cell. 2016 Jul 11. PMID: 27404358
  • A Moving Source of Matrix Components Is Essential for De Novo Basement Membrane Formation. Matsubayashi, Y et al. Curr Biol. 2017 Nov 20. PMID: 29129537
  • DSS-induced damage to basement membranes is repaired by matrix replacement and crosslinking. Howard, AM et al. J Cell Sci. 2019 Apr 8. PMID: 30837285
  • Atypical basement membranes and basement membrane diversity – what is normal anyway?. Pastor-Pareja, JC. J Cell Sci. 2020 Apr 21. PMID: 32317312
  • Shaping cells and organs in Drosophila by opposing roles of fat body-secreted Collagen IV and perlecan. Pastor-Pareja, JC and Xu, T. Dev Cell. 2011 Apr 16. PMID: 21839919