Ancestry-independent fate specification and plasticity in the developmental timing of a typical Drosophila neuronal lineage

Ivana Gaziova, Krishna Moorthi Bhat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


In the Drosophila CNS, combinatorial, interdependent, sequential genetic programs in neuroectodermal (NE) cells, prior to the formation of neuroblasts (NBs), determine the initial identity of NBs. Temporal factors are then sequentially expressed to change the temporal identity. It is unclear at what levels this positional and temporal information integrates to determine progeny cell identity. One idea is that this is a top-down linear process: the identity of a NB determines the identity of its daughter, the ganglion mother cell (GMC), the asymmetric division of the GMC and the fate specification of daughter cells of the GMC. Our results with midline (mid), which encodes a T-box protein, in a typical lineage, NB4→2rGMC→1rRP2/sib, suggest that at least part of the process operates in GMCs. That is, a GMC or a neuronal identity need not be determined at the NB or NE level. This is demonstrated by showing that Mid is expressed in a row 5 GMC (M-GMC), but not in its parent NB or NE cell. In mid mutants, M-GMC changes into GMC-1 and generates an RP2 and a sib without affecting the expression of key genes at the NE/NB levels. Expression of Mid in the M-GMC in mid mutants rescues the fate change, indicating that Mid specifies neurons at the GMC level. Moreover, we found a significant plasticity in the temporal window in which a neuronal lineage can develop. Although the extra GMC-1 in mid mutants is born -2 hours later than the bona fide GMC-1, it follows the same developmental pattern as the bona fide GMC-1. Thus, a GMC identity can be independent of parental identity and GMC formation and elaboration need not be strictly time-bound.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-274
Number of pages12
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2009


  • Ancestry
  • Drosophila
  • Midline
  • Neurogenesis
  • Transcription

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology


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