A pulse of the Drosophila Hox protein Abdominal-A schedules the end of neural proliferation via neuroblast apoptosis

Neuron. 2003 Jan 23;37(2):209-19. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(02)01181-9.


Postembryonic neuroblasts are stem cell-like precursors that generate most neurons of the adult Drosophila central nervous system (CNS). Their capacity to divide is modulated along the anterior-posterior body axis, but the mechanism underlying this is unclear. We use clonal analysis of identified precursors in the abdomen to show that neuron production stops because the cell death program is activated in the neuroblast while it is still engaged in the cell cycle. A burst of expression of the Hox protein Abdominal-A (AbdA) specifies the time at which apoptosis occurs, thereby determining the final number of progeny that each neuroblast generates. These studies identify a mechanism linking the Hox axial patterning system to neural proliferation, and this involves temporal regulation of precursor cell death rather than the cell cycle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Cycle / physiology
  • Cell Division / physiology
  • Clone Cells
  • Drosophila / physiology*
  • Drosophila Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Drosophila Proteins / physiology*
  • Genotype
  • Hot Temperature
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Larva / physiology
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Nuclear Proteins*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Stem Cells / physiology
  • Thorax / physiology
  • Transcription Factors*


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • abd-A protein, Drosophila