Building brains: Mammalian-like neurogenesis in fruit flies

Feb 19, 2008

A new way of generating brain cells has been uncovered in Drosophila. The findings, published this week in the online open access journal Neural Development, reveal that this novel mode of neurogenesis is very similar to that seen in mammalian brains, suggesting that key aspects of neural development could be shared by insects and mammals.

In the widely accepted model of neurogenesis in Drosophila, neuroblasts divide asymmetrically both to self renew and to produce a smaller progenitor cell. This cell then divides into two daughter cells, which receive cell fate determinants, causing them to exit the cell cycle and differentiate.

In mammals, neural stem cells may also divide asymmetrically but can then amplify the number of cells they produce through intermediate progenitors, which divide symmetrically. A research team from the University of Basel, Switzerland set out to study whether specific Drosophila neural stem cells, neuroblasts, might increase the number of cells generated in the larval brain via a similar mechanism.

The team used cell lineage tracing and genetic marker analysis to show that surprisingly large neuroblast lineages are present in the dorsomedial larval brain – a result, they say, of amplified neuroblast proliferation mediated through intermediate progenitors.

In the novel mechanism postulated by the researchers, there are intermediate progenitors present that divide symmetrically in terms of morphology, but asymmetrically in molecular terms. This latter feature means that cell fate determinants are segregated into only one daughter cell, leaving the other free to divide several more times, thus amplifying the number of cells generated.

The authors write: “The surprising similarities in the patterns of neural stem and intermediate progenitor cell division in Drosophila and mammals, suggest that amplification of brain neurogenesis in both groups of animals may rely on evolutionarily conserved cellular and molecular mechanisms.”

Source: BioMed Central

Explore further: Researchers find that coronary arteries hold heart-regenerating cells

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Neuron circuit may enable pitch perception applications

Aug 19, 2014

The first FitzHugh-Nagumo neuron circuit designed to include noise and exhibit the Ghost Stochastic Resonance effect has been presented by researchers from Université de Bourgogne in France. Their circuit ...

Sugar mimics guide stem cells toward neural fate

Jul 30, 2014

Embryonic stem cells can develop into a multitude of cells types. Researchers would like to understand how to channel that development into the specific types of mature cells that make up the organs and other structures of ...

Quantum engineering

Aug 13, 2014

It can be difficult to distinguish between basic and applied research in the nascent field of quantum engineering. One person's exploration of quantum systems like atoms and electrons yields another's building ...

Recommended for you

Student seeks to improve pneumonia vaccines

5 hours ago

Almost a million Americans fall ill with pneumonia each year. Nearly half of these cases require hospitalization, and 5-7 percent are fatal. Current vaccines provide protection against some strains of the ...

Seabed solution for cold sores

6 hours ago

The blue blood of abalone, a seabed delicacy could be used to combat common cold sores and related herpes virus following breakthrough research at the University of Sydney.

Better living through mitochondrial derived vesicles

Aug 19, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—As principal transformers of bacteria, organelles, synapses, and cells, vesicles might be said to be the stuff of life. One need look no further than the rapid rise to prominence of The ...

Zebrafish help to unravel Alzheimer's disease

Aug 19, 2014

New fundamental knowledge about the regulation of stem cells in the nerve tissue of zebrafish embryos results in surprising insights into neurodegenerative disease processes in the human brain. A new study by scientists at ...

Engineering new bone growth

Aug 19, 2014

MIT chemical engineers have devised a new implantable tissue scaffold coated with bone growth factors that are released slowly over a few weeks. When applied to bone injuries or defects, this coated scaffold ...

User comments : 0