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Cell. 1995 Sep 22;82(6):1013-23.

glial cells missing: a genetic switch that controls glial versus neuronal fate.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley 94720, USA.


The glial cells missing (gcm) gene in Drosophila encodes a novel nuclear protein that is transiently expressed early in the development of nearly all glia. In loss-of-function gcm mutant alleles, nearly all glia fail to differentiate, and, where we can follow them in the PNS, are transformed into neurons. In gain-if-function gcm conditions using transgenic constructs that drive ectopic gcm expression, many presumptive neurons are transformed into glia. Thus, gcm appears to function as a binary genetic switch for glia versus neurons. In the presence of gcm protein, presumptive neurons become glia, while in its absence, presumptive glia become neurons.

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