Programmed cell death and context dependent activation of the EGF pathway regulate gliogenesis in the Drosophila olfactory system

Mech Dev. 2004 Jan;121(1):65-78. doi: 10.1016/j.mod.2003.10.002.


In the Drosophila antenna, sensory lineages selected by the basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor Atonal are gliogenic while those specified by the related protein Amos are not. What are the mechanisms that cause the two lineages to act differentially? We found that ectopic expression of the Baculovirus inhibitor of apoptosis protein (p35) rescues glial cells from the Amos-derived lineages, suggesting that precursors are removed by programmed cell death. In the wildtype, glial precursors express the extracellular-signal regulated kinase transiently, and antagonism of Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF) pathway signaling compromises their development. We suggest that all sensory lineages on the antenna are competent to produce glia but only those specified by Atonal respond to EGF signaling and survive. These results underscore the importance of developmental context of cell lineages in their responses to non-autonomous signaling in the choice between survival and death.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Drosophila / physiology*
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / metabolism*
  • Ligands
  • Nerve Growth Factors / metabolism
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Neuroglia / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Smell / physiology*


  • Amos protein, Drosophila
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Ligands
  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • ato protein, Drosophila
  • Epidermal Growth Factor