Genetic systems for functional cell ablation in Drosophila

Sean T Sweeney, Alicia Hidalgo, J Steven de Belle, Haig Keshishian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


The selective removal of cells by ablation is a powerful tool in the study of eukaryotic developmental biology, providing much information about the origin, fate, or function of these cells in the developing organism. In Drosophila, three main methods have been used to ablate cells: chemical, genetic, and laser ablation. Each method has its own applicability with regard to developmental stage and the cells to be ablated, and its own limitations. This article describes genetic systems for functional cell ablation in Drosophila. Genetic ablation consists of delivering a toxin or death-inducing gene under the control of a cell-specific enhancer, or by means of the GAL4 system. Because of the wide range of existing enhancers, toxins and death genes can be targeted to virtually any cell of choice, allowing for cell-type-specificity. Genetic ablation is less expensive and less labor-intensive than laser ablation. It allows one to analyze the effects of eliminating every cell of a given type within an embryo, and also allows the examination of populations rather than individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)950-6
Number of pages7
JournalCold Spring Harbor Protocols
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2012


  • Ablation Techniques
  • Animals
  • Developmental Biology
  • Drosophila
  • Entomology
  • Genetic Techniques
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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