Fruit Fly Wing Research Offers Window into Birth Defects

Supercomputers help show how groups of cells develop into wings 

If fruit fly wings do not develop into the right shape, the flies will die. UC Riverside (UCR) researchers have learned how fly embryo cells develop as they need to, opening a window into human development and possible treatments for birth defects. Biologists often investigate tissue development by studying parts of individual cells. In contrast, the UCR team used some of the most powerful supercomputers in California to simulate many cells working together. The team examined the mechanical properties of the cells, such as their elasticity and fluid pressure. They also studied how a group of different cell types called a “wing disc” divide and eventually become wing tissue. Their findings are detailed in the journal Nature Communications. The open-access article, published March 20, 2024, is titledBalancing Competing Effects of Tissue Growth and Cytoskeletal Regulation During Drosophila Wing Disc Development.”

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