Mapping peptidergic cells in Drosophila: where DIMM fits in

PLoS One. 2008 Mar 26;3(3):e1896. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0001896.


The bHLH transcription factor DIMMED has been associated with the differentiation of peptidergic cells in Drosophila. However, whether all Drosophila peptidergic cells express DIMM, and the extent to which all DIMM cells are peptidergic, have not been determined. To address these issues, we have mapped DIMM expression in the central nervous system (CNS) and periphery in the late larval stage Drosophila. At 100 hr after egg-laying, DIMM immunosignals are largely congruent with a dimm-promoter reporter (c929-GAL4) and they present a stereotyped pattern of 306 CNS cells and 52 peripheral cells. We assigned positional values for all DIMM CNS cells with respect to reference gene expression patterns, or to patterns of secondary neuroblast lineages. We could assign provisional peptide identities to 68% of DIMM-expressing CNS cells (207/306) and to 73% of DIMM-expressing peripheral cells (38/52) using a panel of 24 markers for Drosophila neuropeptide genes. Furthermore, we found that DIMM co-expression was a prevalent feature within single neuropeptide marker expression patterns. Of the 24 CNS neuropeptide gene patterns we studied, six patterns are >90% DIMM-positive, while 16 of 22 patterns are >40% DIMM-positive. Thus most or all DIMM cells in Drosophila appear to be peptidergic, and many but not all peptidergic cells express DIMM. The co-incidence of DIMM-expression among peptidergic cells is best explained by a hypothesis that DIMM promotes a specific neurosecretory phenotype we term LEAP. LEAP denotes Large cells that display Episodic release of Amidated Peptides.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / physiology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Drosophila
  • Drosophila Proteins / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Peptides / metabolism*


  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Peptides
  • dimm protein, Drosophila