Lineage-specific determination of ring neuron circuitry in the central complex of Drosophila

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The ellipsoid body (EB) of the Drosophila central complex mediates sensorimotor 33 integration and action selection for adaptive behaviours. Insights into its physiological 34 function are steadily accumulating, however the developmental origin and genetic 35 specification have remained largely elusive. Here we identify two stem cells in the 36 embryonic neuroectoderm as precursor cells of neuronal progeny that establish EB 37 circuits in the adult brain. Genetic tracing of embryonic neuroblasts ppd5 and mosaic 38 analysis with a repressible cell marker identified lineage-related progeny as Pox neuro 39 (Poxn)-expressing EB ring neurons, R1-R4. During embryonic brain development, 40 engrailed function is required for the initial formation of Poxn-expressing ppd5-derived 41 progeny. Postembryonic determination of R1-R4 identity depends on lineage-specific 42 Poxn function that separates neuronal subtypes of ppd5-derived progeny into hemi-43 lineages with projections either terminating in the EB ring neuropil or the superior 44 protocerebrum (SP). Poxn knockdown in ppd5-derived progeny results in identity 45 transformation of engrailed-expressing hemi-lineages from SP to EB-specific circuits. In 46 contrast, lineage-specific knockdown of engrailed leads to reduced numbers of Poxn-47 expressing ring neurons. These findings establish neuroblasts ppd5-derived ring 48 neurons as lineage-related sister cells that require engrailed and Poxn function for the 49 proper formation of EB circuitry in the adult central complex of Drosophila.
Original languageEnglish
Article number045062
JournalBiology Open
Issue number7
Early online date8 Jul 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Jul 2019


  • Brain
  • Central complex
  • Drosophila
  • Ellipsoid body
  • Neural circuit
  • Stem cell lineage


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