The morphology and physiology of neurons are directed by developmental decisions made within their lines of descent from single stem cells. Distinct stem cells may produce neurons having shared properties that define their cell class, such as the type of secreted neurotransmitter. The relationship between cell class and lineage is complex. Here we developed the transgenic cell class-lineage intersection (CLIn) system to assign cells of a particular class to specific lineages within the Drosophila brain. CLIn also enables birth-order analysis and genetic manipulation of particular cell classes arising from particular lineages. We demonstrated the power of CLIn in the context of the eight central brain type II lineages, which produce highly diverse progeny through intermediate neural progenitors. We mapped 18 dopaminergic neurons from three distinct clusters to six type II lineages that show lineage-characteristic neurite trajectories. In addition, morphologically distinct dopaminergic neurons are produced within a given lineage, and they arise in an invariant sequence. We also identified type II lineages that produce doublesex- and fruitless-expressing neurons and examined whether female-specific apoptosis in these lineages accounts for the lower number of these neurons in the female brain. Blocking apoptosis in these lineages resulted in more cells in both sexes with males still carrying more cells than females. This argues that sex-specific stem cell fate together with differential progeny apoptosis contribute to the final sexual dimorphism.
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