JOURNAL ARTICLE

Lineage-specific cell death in postembryonic brain development of Drosophila

Abhilasha Kumar, Bruno Bello, Heinrich Reichert
Development 2009, 136 (20): 3433-42
19762424
The Drosophila central brain is composed of thousands of neurons that derive from approximately 100 neuroblasts per hemisphere. Functional circuits in the brain require precise neuronal wiring and tight control of neuronal numbers. How this accurate control of neuronal numbers is achieved during neural development is largely unclear. Specifically, the role of programmed cell death in control of cell numbers has not been studied in the central brain neuroblast lineages. Here, we focus on four postembryonic neuroblast lineages in the central brain identified on the basis that they express the homeobox gene engrailed (en). For each lineage, we determine the total number of adult-specific neurons generated as well as number and pattern of en-expressing cells. We then demonstrate that programmed cell death has a pronounced effect on the number of cells in the four lineages; approximately half of the immature adult-specific neurons in three of the four lineages are eliminated by cell death during postembryonic development. Moreover, we show that programmed cell death selectively affects en-positive versus en-negative cells in a lineage-specific manner and, thus, controls the relative number of en-expressing neurons in each lineage. Furthermore, we provide evidence that Notch signaling is involved in the regulation of en expression. Based on our findings, we conclude that lineage-specific programmed cell death plays a prominent role in the generation of neuronal number and lineage diversity in the Drosophila brain.

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