Identification of motifs that are conserved in 12 Drosophila species and regulate midline glia vs. neuron expression

Genetics. 2008 Feb;178(2):787-99. doi: 10.1534/genetics.107.080440. Epub 2008 Feb 1.


Functional complexity of the central nervous system (CNS) is reflected by the large number and diversity of genes expressed in its many different cell types. Understanding the control of gene expression within cells of the CNS will help reveal how various neurons and glia develop and function. Midline cells of Drosophila differentiate into glial cells and several types of neurons and also serve as a signaling center for surrounding tissues. Here, we examine regulation of the midline gene, wrapper, required for both neuron-glia interactions and viability of midline glia. We identify a region upstream of wrapper required for midline expression that is highly conserved (87%) between 12 Drosophila species. Site-directed mutagenesis identifies four motifs necessary for midline glial expression: (1) a Single-minded/Tango binding site, (2) a motif resembling a pointed binding site, (3) a motif resembling a Sox binding site, and (4) a novel motif. An additional highly conserved 27 bp are required to restrict expression to midline glia and exclude it from midline neurons. These results suggest short, highly conserved genomic sequences flanking Drosophila midline genes are indicative of functional regulatory regions and that small changes within these sequences can alter the expression pattern of a gene.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Conserved Sequence*
  • DNA Primers
  • Drosophila / classification
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Genetic Variation
  • Germ-Line Mutation
  • Nervous System Physiological Phenomena
  • Neuroglia / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Species Specificity


  • DNA Primers