Huckebein-mediated autoregulation of Glide/Gcm triggers glia specification

Rossana De Iaco, Laurent Soustelle, Martial Kammerer, Sandro Sorrentino, Cécile Jacques, Angela Giangrande
EMBO Journal 2006 January 11, 25 (1): 244-54
Cell specification in the nervous system requires patterning genes dictating spatio-temporal coordinates as well as fate determinants. In the case of neurons, which are controlled by the family of proneural transcription factors, binding specificity and patterned expression trigger both differentiation and specification. In contrast, a single gene, glide cell deficient/glial cell missing (glide/gcm), is sufficient for all fly lateral glial differentiation. How can different types of cells develop in the presence of a single fate determinant, that is, how do differentiation and specification pathways integrate and produce distinct glial populations is not known. By following an identified lineage, we here show that glia specification is triggered by high glide/gcm expression levels, mediated by cell-specific protein-protein interactions. Huckebein (Hkb), a lineage-specific factor, provides a molecular link between glide/gcm and positional cues. Importantly, Hkb does not activate transcription; rather, it physically interacts with Glide/Gcm thereby triggering its autoregulation. These data emphasize the importance of fate determinant cell-specific quantitative regulation in the establishment of cell diversity.

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