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Optomotor-blind expression in glial cells is required for correct axonal projection across theDrosophilainner optic chiasm

Developmental Biology
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2007.10.011
  • Drosophila
  • Optic Chiasm
  • Glia
  • Optomotor-Blind
  • T-Box
  • Visual System Development
  • Cell Migration
  • Axonal Pathfinding
  • Gliopodia


Abstract In the Drosophila adult visual system, photoreceptor axons and their connecting interneurons are tied into a retinotopic pattern throughout the consecutive neuropil regions: lamina, medulla and lobula complex. Lamina and medulla are joined by the first or outer optic chiasm (OOC). Medulla, lobula and lobula plate are connected by the second or inner optic chiasm (IOC). In the regulatory mutant In(1)omb H31 of the T-box gene optomotor-blind ( omb), fibers were found to cross aberrantly through the IOC into the neuropil of the lobula complex. Here, we show that In(1)omb H31 causes selective loss of OMB expression from glial cells within the IOC previously identified as IOC giant glia (ICg-glia). In the absence of OMB, ICg-glia retain their glial cell identity and survive until the adult stage but tend to be displaced into the lobula complex neuropil leading to a misprojection of axons through the IOC. In addition, adult mutant glia show an aberrant increase in length and frequency of glial cell processes. We narrowed down the onset of the IOC defect to the interval between 48 h and 72 h of pupal development. Within the 40 kb of regulatory DNA lacking in In(1)omb H31 , we identified an enhancer element (ombC) with activity in the ICg-glia. ombC-driven expression of omb in ICg-glia restored proper axonal projection through the IOC in In(1)omb H31 mutant flies, as well as proper glial cell positioning and morphology. These results indicate that expression of the transcription factor OMB in ICg-glial cells is autonomously required for glial cell migration and morphology and non-autonomously influences axonal pathfinding.

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