Transformations of epithelial monolayers during wing development of Manduca sexta

James B. Nardi, Elizabeth Ujhelyi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The two epithelial monolayers of the insect wing undergo striking morphogenetic changes during the course of adult development, but the exact interactions between these monolayers were not evident until the ultrastructure of the cells was carefully examined. The interaction of the dorsal monolayer with the ventral monolayer continually changes as the two initially separate monolayers first lose their pupal basal laminae and then come together along a sharp interface to form microtubule-associated junctions. As blood space between the two monolayers expands 2 days later, new adult basal laminae and cuticle form. Concomitantly the epithelial cells stretch along their apicobasal axes to create a thin cellular M layer halfway between the dorsal and ventral surfaces of the wing that represents the site where connections between the monolayers are maintained at specialized basal junctions. The elongated processes of each monolayer that make up this M layer first fasciculate and then span the space separating the two monolayers, but only at relatively widely-spaced intervals. During later stages of adult development, dense aggregates of microtubules appear in these epithelial processes and presumably contract as cells dramatically shorten along their apicobasal axes during expansion of the wing. Examination of the ultrastructure of the developing adult wing has revealed how certain cellular events can account for the mechanics of cuticle and wing expansion after adult emergence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-157
Number of pages13
JournalArthropod Structure and Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001


  • Epithelial monolayers
  • Microtubule-associated junctions
  • Morphogenesis
  • Wing development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Developmental Biology
  • Insect Science


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