Genetic control of dorsoventral patterning and neuroblast specification in the Drosophila Central Nervous System
Original Article | Published: 1 February 2007
Guoyan Zhao1, Scott R. Wheeler2 and James B. Skeath3,*
1Program in Molecular Cell Biology, 2Program in Neuroscience and 3Department of Genetics, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, MO, USA
The Drosophila embryonic Central Nervous System (CNS) develops from the ventrolateral region of the embryo, the neuroectoderm. Neuroblasts arise from the neuroectoderm and acquire unique fates based on the positions in which they are formed. Previous work has identified six genes that pattern the dorsoventral axis of the neuroectoderm: Drosophila epidermal growth factor receptor (Egfr), ventral nerve cord defective (vnd), intermediate neuroblast defective (ind), muscle segment homeobox (msh), Dichaete and Sox-Neuro (SoxN). The activities of these genes partition the early neuroectoderm into three parallel longitudinal columns (medial, intermediate, lateral) from which three distinct columns of neural stem cells arise. Most of our knowledge of the regulatory relationships among these genes derives from classical loss of function analyses. To gain a more in depth understanding of Egfr-mediated regulation of vnd, ind and msh and investigate potential cross-regulatory interactions among these genes, we combined loss of function with ectopic activation of Egfr activity. We observe that ubiquitous activation of Egfr expands the expression of vnd and ind into the lateral column and reduces that of msh in the lateral column. Through this work, we identified the genetic criteria required for the development of the medial and intermediate column cell fates. We also show that ind appears to repress vnd, adding an additional layer of complexity to the genetic regulatory hierarchy that patterns the dorsoventral axis of the CNS. Finally, we demonstrate that Egfr and the genes of the achaete-scute complex act in parallel to regulate the individual fate of neural stem cells.