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Dev Biol. 2006 Aug 15;296(2):545-60. Epub 2006 May 5.

Expression profiling of glial genes during Drosophila embryogenesis.

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  • 1Institute of Genetics, University of Mainz, Germany. balt@uni-mainz.de


In the central nervous system of Drosophila, the induction of the glial cell fate is dependent on the transcription factor glial cells missing (gcm). Though a considerable number of other genes have been shown to be expressed in all or in subsets of glial cells, the course of glial cell differentiation and subtype specification is only poorly understood. This prompted us to design a whole genome microarray approach comparing gcm gain-of-function and, for the first time, gcm loss-of-function genetics to wildtype in time course experiments along embryogenesis. The microarray data were analyzed with special emphasis on the temporal profile of differential regulation. A comparison of both experiments enabled us to identify more than 300 potential gcm target genes. Validation by in situ hybridization revealed expression in glial cells, macrophages, and tendon cells (all three cell types depend on gcm) for 70 genes, of which more than 50 had been unknown to be under gcm control. Eighteen genes are exclusively expressed in glial cells, and their dependence on gcm was confirmed in situ. Initial considerations regarding the role of the newly discovered glial genes are discussed based on gene ontology and the temporal profile and subtype specificity of their expression. This collection of glial genes provides an important basis for the clarification of the genetic network controlling various aspects of glial development and function.

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