Cell lineage-specific expression and function of the empty spiracles gene in adult brain development of Drosophila melanogaster

Robert Lichtneckert, Bruno Bello, Heinrich Reichert
Development 2007, 134 (7): 1291-300
The empty spiracles (ems) gene, encoding a homeodomain transcription factor, is a member of the cephalic gap gene family that acts in early specification of the anterior neuroectoderm in the embryonic brain of Drosophila. Here we show that ems is also expressed in the mature adult brain in the lineage-restricted clonal progeny of a single neuroblast in each brain hemisphere. These ems-expressing neuronal cells are located ventral to the antennal lobes and project a fascicle to the superior medial protocerebrum. All adult-specific secondary neurons in this lineage persistently express ems during postembryonic larval development and continue to do so throughout metamorphosis and into the adult. Mosaic-based MARCM mutant analysis and genetic rescue experiments demonstrate that ems function is autonomously required for the correct number of cells in the persistently expressing adult-specific lineage. Moreover, they indicate that ems is also required cell autonomously for the formation of the correct projections in this specific lineage. This analysis of ems expression and function reveals novel and unexpected roles of a cephalic gap gene in translating lineage information into cell number control and projection specificity in an individual clonal unit of the adult brain.

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