The adult Drosophila midgut is thought to arise from an endodermal rudiment specified during embryogenesis. Previous studies have reported the presence of individual cells termed adult midgut precursors (AMPs) as well as "midgut islands" or "islets" in embryonic and larval midgut tissue. Yet the precise relationship between progenitor cell populations and the cells of the adult midgut has not been characterized. Using a combination of molecular markers and directed cell lineage tracing, we provide evidence that the adult midgut arises from a molecularly distinct population of single cells present by the embryonic/larval transition. AMPs reside in a distinct basal position in the larval midgut where they remain through all subsequent larval and pupal stages and into adulthood. At least five phases of AMP activity are associated with the stepwise process of midgut formation. Our data shows that during larval stages AMPs give rise to the presumptive adult epithelium; during pupal stages AMPs contribute to the final size, cell number and form. Finally, a genetic screen has led to the identification of the Ecdysone receptor as a regulator of AMP expansion.
- Adult midgut precursors
- Intestinal stem cell