Live Imaging and Analysis of Muscle Contractions in Drosophila Embryo

This article has been accepted and is currently in production


Coordinated muscle contractions are a form of rhythmic behavior seen early during development in Drosophila embryos. Neuronal sensory feedback circuits are required to control this behavior. Failure to produce the rhythmic pattern of contractions can be indicative of neurological abnormalities. We previously found that defects in protein O-mannosylation, a posttranslational protein modification, affect the axon morphology of sensory neurons and result in abnormal coordinated muscle contractions in embryos. Here, we present a relatively simple method for recording and analyzing the pattern of peristaltic muscle contractions by live imaging of late stage embryos up to the point of hatching, which we used to characterize the muscle contraction phenotype of protein O-mannosyltransferase mutants. Data obtained from these recordings can be used to analyze muscle contraction waves, including frequency, direction of propagation and relative amplitude of muscle contractions at different body segments. We have also examined body posture and taken advantage of a fluorescent marker expressed specifically in muscles to accurately determine the position of the embryo midline. A similar approach can also be utilized to study various other behaviors during development, such as embryo rolling and hatching.