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Open AccessReview

Specification and Patterning of Drosophila Appendages

Departamento de Biología Molecular and Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM/CSIC), Nicolás Cabrera 1, 28049 Madrid, Spain
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
J. Dev. Biol. 2018, 6(3), 17;
Received: 5 July 2018 / Revised: 10 July 2018 / Accepted: 12 July 2018 / Published: 14 July 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Drosophila - A Model System for Developmental Biology)
PDF [1506 KB, uploaded 14 July 2018]


Appendages are external projections of the body that serve the animal for locomotion, feeding, or environment exploration. The appendages of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster are derived from the imaginal discs, epithelial sac-like structures specified in the embryo that grow and pattern during larva development. In the last decades, genetic and developmental studies in the fruit fly have provided extensive knowledge regarding the mechanisms that direct the formation of the appendages. Importantly, many of the signaling pathways and patterning genes identified and characterized in Drosophila have similar functions during vertebrate appendage development. In this review, we will summarize the genetic and molecular mechanisms that lead to the specification of appendage primordia in the embryo and their posterior patterning during imaginal disc development. The identification of the regulatory logic underlying appendage specification in Drosophila suggests that the evolutionary origin of the insect wing is, in part, related to the development of ventral appendages. View Full-Text
Keywords: Drosophila; appendages; imaginal discs; transcription factors; signaling pathways; proximodistal axis; wing; leg; antenna; appendage primordia Drosophila; appendages; imaginal discs; transcription factors; signaling pathways; proximodistal axis; wing; leg; antenna; appendage primordia

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Ruiz-Losada, M.; Blom-Dahl, D.; Córdoba, S.; Estella, C. Specification and Patterning of Drosophila Appendages. J. Dev. Biol. 2018, 6, 17.

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