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Adv Exp Med Biol. 2008;628:57-68. doi: 10.1007/978-0-387-78261-4_4.

Dissection of the embryonic brain using photoactivated gene expression.

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Department of Biological Sciences and Science, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213, USA. minden@cmuedu


The Drosophila brain is generated by a complex series of morphogenetic movements. To better understand brain development and to provide a guide for experimental manipulation of brain progenitors, we created a fate map using photoactivated gene expression to mark cells originating within specific mitotic domains and time-lapse microscopy to dynamically monitor their progeny. We show that mitotic domains 1, 5, 9, 20 and B give rise to discrete cell populations within specific regions of the brain. Mitotic domains 1, 5, 9 and 20 give rise to brain neurons; mitotic domain B produced glial cells. Mitotic domains 5 and 9 produce the antennal and visual sensory systems, respectively, where each sensory system is composed of several disparate cell clusters. Time-lapse analysis of marked cells showed complex mitotic and migratory patterns for cells derived from these mitotic domains.

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