Successive specification of Drosophila neuroblasts NB 6-4 and NB 7-3 depends on interaction of the segment polarity genes wingless, gooseberry and naked cuticle

Development. 2001 Sep;128(17):3253-61. doi: 10.1242/dev.128.17.3253.


The Drosophila central nervous system derives from neural precursor cells, the neuroblasts (NBs), which are born from the neuroectoderm by the process of delamination. Each NB has a unique identity, which is revealed by the production of a characteristic cell lineage and a specific set of molecular markers it expresses. These NBs delaminate at different but reproducible time points during neurogenesis (S1-S5) and it has been shown for early delaminating NBs (S1/S2) that their identities depend on positional information conferred by segment polarity genes and dorsoventral patterning genes. We have studied mechanisms leading to the fate specification of a set of late delaminating neuroblasts, NB 6-4 and NB 7-3, both of which arise from the engrailed (en) expression domain, with NB 6-4 delaminating first. In contrast to former reports, we did not find any evidence for a direct role of hedgehog in the process of NB 7-3 specification. Instead, we present evidence to show that the interplay of the segmentation genes naked cuticle (nkd) and gooseberry (gsb), both of which are targets of wingless (wg) activity, leads to differential commitment to NB 6-4 and NB 7-3 cell fate. In the absence of either nkd or gsb, one NB fate is replaced by the other. However, the temporal sequence of delamination is maintained, suggesting that formation and specification of these two NBs are under independent control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Patterning / genetics
  • Body Patterning / physiology*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Central Nervous System / embryology*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins*
  • Drosophila Proteins*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / embryology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism
  • Hedgehog Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism
  • Homeodomain Proteins / physiology
  • Insect Proteins / metabolism*
  • Insect Proteins / physiology
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Nuclear Proteins*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / metabolism*
  • Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Time Factors
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / physiology
  • Wnt1 Protein


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • En protein, Drosophila
  • Hedgehog Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Insect Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Trans-Activators
  • Transcription Factors
  • Wnt1 Protein
  • gsb protein, Drosophila
  • nkd protein, Drosophila
  • wg protein, Drosophila
  • hh protein, Drosophila