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Dev Biol. 2008 Mar 1;315(1):28-41. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2007.10.011. Epub 2007 Oct 22.

Optomotor-blind expression in glial cells is required for correct axonal projection across the Drosophila inner optic chiasm.

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  • 1Lehrstuhl fuer Genetik und Neurobiologie, Biozentrum, Universitaet Wuerzburg, 97074 Wuerzburg, Germany.


In the Drosophila adult visual system, photoreceptor axons and their connecting interneurons are tied into a retinotopic pattern throughout the consecutive neuropil regions: lamina, medulla and lobula complex. Lamina and medulla are joined by the first or outer optic chiasm (OOC). Medulla, lobula and lobula plate are connected by the second or inner optic chiasm (IOC). In the regulatory mutant In(1)omb(H31) of the T-box gene optomotor-blind (omb), fibers were found to cross aberrantly through the IOC into the neuropil of the lobula complex. Here, we show that In(1)omb(H31) causes selective loss of OMB expression from glial cells within the IOC previously identified as IOC giant glia (ICg-glia). In the absence of OMB, ICg-glia retain their glial cell identity and survive until the adult stage but tend to be displaced into the lobula complex neuropil leading to a misprojection of axons through the IOC. In addition, adult mutant glia show an aberrant increase in length and frequency of glial cell processes. We narrowed down the onset of the IOC defect to the interval between 48 h and 72 h of pupal development. Within the 40 kb of regulatory DNA lacking in In(1)omb(H31), we identified an enhancer element (ombC) with activity in the ICg-glia. ombC-driven expression of omb in ICg-glia restored proper axonal projection through the IOC in In(1)omb(H31) mutant flies, as well as proper glial cell positioning and morphology. These results indicate that expression of the transcription factor OMB in ICg-glial cells is autonomously required for glial cell migration and morphology and non-autonomously influences axonal pathfinding.

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