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Neural Dev. 2009 Dec 11;4:44. doi: 10.1186/1749-8104-4-44.

Postembryonic development of transit amplifying neuroblast lineages in the Drosophila brain.

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Biozentrum, University of Basel, CH-4056 Basel, Switzerland.



Specific dorsomedial (DM) neuroblast lineages of the Drosophila brain amplify their proliferation through generation of transit amplifying intermediate progenitor cells. Together, these DM neuroblast lineages comprise over 5,000 adult-specific neural cells and thus represent a substantial part of the brain. However, no information is currently available about the structure or function of any of the neural cells in these DM lineages. In this report we use MARCM-based clonal analysis together with immunocytochemical labeling techniques to investigate the type and fate of neural cells generated in the DM lineages.


Genetic cell lineage-tracing and immunocytochemical marker analysis reveal that DM neuroblasts are multipotent progenitors that produce a set of postembryonic brain glia as well as a large number of adult-specific protocerebral neurons. During larval development the adult-specific neurons of each DM lineage form several spatially separated axonal fascicles, some of which project along larval brain commissural structures that are primordia of midline neuropile. By taking advantage of a specific Gal4 reporter line, the DM-derived neuronal cells can be identified and followed into early pupal stages. During pupal development the neurons of the DM lineages arborize in many parts of the brain and contribute to neuropile substructures of the developing central complex, such as the fan-shaped body, noduli and protocerebral bridge.


Our findings provide cellular and molecular evidence for the fact that DM neuroblasts are multipotent progenitors; thus, they represent the first identified progenitor cells in the fly brain that have neuroglioblast functions during postembryonic development. Moreover, our results demonstrate that the adult-specific neurons of the DM lineages arborize widely in the brain and also make a major contribution to the developing central complex. These findings suggest that the amplification of proliferation that characterizes DM lineages may be an important requirement for generating the large number of neurons required in highly complex neuropile structures such as the central complex in the Drosophila brain.

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