Navigation Links
How the fly flies
Date:11/17/2011

This press release is available in German.

Flies are real flight artists, although they only have small wings compared to their body size. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried near Munich, Germany, recently identified the genetic switch that regulates the formation of flight muscles. "The gene spalt is essential for the generation of the ultrafast super muscles," emphasizes Frank Schnorrer, head of the research group 'Muscle Dynamics'. "Without spalt, the fly builds only normal leg muscles instead of flight muscles." The scientists' results have now been published in Nature.

In order to fly efficiently, flies have to flap their small wings very fast. This causes the familiar buzzing and humming of the small beasts. The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster moves her wings at a frequency of 200 hertz that means its flight muscles contract and relax 200 times per second. "In contrast, a hundred meters sprinter who moves his legs only a few times per second moves like a snail," Frank Schnorrer describes. How can the fruit fly flap its wings at such a high frequency?

Muscles control all body movements, including the wing oscillations. However, flight muscles are unique. Their contractions are not only regulated by nerve impulses as usual, but additionally triggered by tension. Every fly has two categories of flight muscles which enable the wing oscillations: One type moves the wings down and, at the same time, stretches the other type which induces its contraction. Such, the wings are pulled up again and stable wing oscillations begin.

No spalt, you are flightless

By means of targeted gene silencing in the fruit fly, scientists in the research group "Muscle Dynamics" at the MPI of Biochemistry have now identified the switch essential for the formation of flight muscles: "Spalt". Transcription factors like Spalt play an important role for the correct transcription of the genetic information into RNA and proteins necessary in the respective cell type. Spalt only exists in flight muscles and is responsible for the specific architecture of their myofibrils. These components of muscle fibres alone enable the contraction of a muscle in response to the applied tension during the oscillations. Without Spalt, the flies survive, but are flightless. The flight muscles no longer react to tension and behave like normal leg muscles. Vice versa, the scientists succeeded in creating flight muscle-like muscles in the fly's legs by only inserting Spalt.

These results could be medically important. "Human body muscles do not have Spalt and are hardly regulated by tension," Frank Schnorrer explains. "But the human cardiac muscle builds Spalt and the tension inside the ventricle influences the heartbeat intensity. Whether Spalt plays a role in heartbeat regulation, is not yet known and remains to be investigated."


'/>"/>
Contact: Anja Konschak
konschak@biochem.mpg.de
49-898-578-2824
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. UCLA biologists slow the aging process in fruit flies
2. Biologists use flies and mice to get to the heart of Down syndrome
3. Digging up clues: Research on buried blow flies to help crime scene investigators
4. Distribution atlas of butterflies in Europe
5. New thinking on regulation of sex chromosomes in fruit flies
6. A tale of (more than) 2 butterflies
7. Research reveals how butterflies copy their neighbors to fool birds
8. Mutant flies shed light on inherited intellectual disability
9. No safety in numbers for moths and butterflies
10. Too many relatives ruining your picnic? Be glad the flies dont invite their cousins
11. Instant evolution in whiteflies: Just add bacteria
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
How the fly flies
(Date:4/15/2016)... , April 15, 2016 ... the,  "Global Gait Biometrics Market 2016-2020,"  report to ... http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160330/349511LOGO ) , ,The global gait biometrics ... of 13.98% during the period 2016-2020. ... angles, which can be used to compute factors ...
(Date:4/13/2016)... , April 13, 2016  IMPOWER physicians supporting Medicaid ... setting a new clinical standard in telehealth thanks to ... leveraging the higi platform, IMPOWER patients can routinely track ... and body mass index, and, when they opt in, ... convenient visit to a local retail location at no ...
(Date:3/31/2016)... , March 31, 2016  Genomics firm Nabsys ... founding CEO, Barrett Bready , M.D., who returned ... of the original technical leadership team, including Chief Technology ... of Product Development, Steve Nurnberg and Vice President of ... to the company. Dr. Bready served as ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... , June 27, 2016  Liquid Biotech ... the funding of a Sponsored Research Agreement with ... tumor cells (CTCs) from cancer patients.  The funding ... CTC levels correlate with clinical outcomes in cancer ... data will then be employed to support the ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... 2016 , ... While the majority of commercial spectrophotometers and fluorometers use the ... models are higher end machines that use the more unconventional z-dimension of 20mm. ... the bottom of the cuvette holder. , FireflySci has developed several Agilent flow ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Mass. , June 23, 2016   ... development of novel compounds designed to target cancer ... napabucasin, has been granted Orphan Drug Designation from ... the treatment of gastric cancer, including gastroesophageal junction ... stemness inhibitor designed to inhibit cancer stemness pathways ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Charm Sciences, Inc. is ... has received AOAC Research Institute approval 061601. , “This is another AOAC-RI approval ... Bob Salter, Vice President of Regulatory and Industrial Affairs. “The Peel Plate methods ...
Breaking Biology Technology: