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Wing It
14 May 2012

Wing It

As a three-day-old fruit fly larva starts its transformation into an adult, important changes are going on beneath its skin. This raindrop-shaped structure is the nascent wing, forming from a tiny pocket of cells (stained blue) as they grow in a carefully coordinated fashion. Cells containing a chemical messenger called dpp have been labelled with green fluorescent protein. Dpp helps to control how the wing takes shape, accumulating in a narrow band down the middle to divide its anterior [front] and posterior [back] ends. And it tells nearby cells to ‘switch on’ genes (stained red), which control the development of different parts of the wing. Scientists recently discovered that another protein – called pent – makes sure different parts of the wing grow in proportion with one another.

Written by Emma Stoye

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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