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Dev Dyn. 2007 Dec;236(12):3562-8.

The commonly used marker ELAV is transiently expressed in neuroblasts and glial cells in the Drosophila embryonic CNS.

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Institute of Genetics, University of Mainz, Mainz, Germany.


Glial cells in the Drosophila embryonic nervous system can be monitored with the marker Reversed-polarity (Repo), whereas neurons lack Repo and express the RNA-binding protein ELAV (Embryonic Lethal, Abnormal Vision). Since the first description of the ELAV protein distribution in 1991 (Robinow and White), it is believed that ELAV is an exclusive neuronal and postmitotic marker. Looking at ELAV expression, we unexpectedly observed that, in addition to neurons, ELAV is transiently expressed in embryonic glial cells. Furthermore, it is transiently present in the proliferating longitudinal glioblast, and it is transcribed in embryonic neuroblasts. Likewise, elav-Gal4 lines, which are generally used as postmitotic neuronal driver lines, show expression in neural progenitor cells and nearly all embryonic glial cells. Thus, in the embryo, elav can no longer be considered an exclusive marker or driver for postmitotic neurons. elav loss-of-function mutants show no obvious effects on the number and pattern of embryonic glia.

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