How Growth Abnormalities Delay "Puberty" in Drosophila
In various organisms, including flies, amphibians, and mammals, major developmental transitions such as metamorphosis and puberty are triggered by specific hormones. The requirement for a hormone to proceed to the next stage allows the organism to reestablish the temporal coordination of development between multiple organs that might develop at slightly different rates. Additionally, organisms appear to have evolved mechanisms for delaying these transitions in situations where growth in an organ is abnormal or delayed. New evidence in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster indicates that DILP8, a protein of the insulin and relaxin family, delays the onset of metamorphosis under several conditions that alter growth in imaginal discs. Similar mechanisms might operate in disease states in humans where alterations in growth or tissue inflammation can delay puberty.