Tip cells act as dynamic cellular anchors in the morphogenesis of looped renal tubules in Drosophila

Helen Weavers, Helen Skaer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Tissue morphogenesis involves both the sculpting of tissue shape and the positioning of tissues relative to one another in the body. Using the renal tubules of Drosophila, we show that a specific distal tubule cell regulates both tissue architecture and position in the body cavity. Focusing on the anterior tubules, we demonstrate that tip cells make transient contacts with alary muscles at abdominal segment boundaries, moving progressively forward as convergent extension movements lengthen the tubule. Tip cell anchorage antagonizes forward-directed, TGF-β-guided tubule elongation, thereby ensuring the looped morphology characteristic of renal tubules from worms to humans. Distinctive tip cell exploratory behavior, adhesion, and basement membrane clearing underlie target recognition and dynamic interactions. Defects in these features obliterate tip cell anchorage, producing misshapen and misplaced tubules with impaired physiological function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-44
Number of pages14
JournalDevelopmental Cell
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2013

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Membrane
  • Drosophila
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Immunoblotting
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Kidney Tubules
  • Lasers
  • Morphogenesis
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta


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