Although, glial cells have well characterized functions in the developing and mature brain, it is only in the past decade that roles for these cells in behavior and plasticity have been delineated. Glial astrocytes and glia-neuron signaling, for example, are now known to have important modulatory functions in sleep, circadian behavior, memory and plasticity. To better understand mechanisms of glia-neuron signaling in the context of behavior, we have conducted cell-specific, genome-wide expression profiling of adult Drosophila astrocyte-like brain cells and performed RNA interference (RNAi)-based genetic screens to identify glial factors that regulate behavior. Importantly, our studies demonstrate that adult fly astrocyte-like cells and mouse astrocytes have similar molecular signatures; in contrast, fly astrocytes and surface glia-different classes of glial cells-have distinct expression profiles. Glial-specific expression of 653 RNAi constructs targeting 318 genes identified multiple factors associated with altered locomotor activity, circadian rhythmicity and/or responses to mechanical stress (bang sensitivity). Of interest, 1 of the relevant genes encodes a vesicle recycling factor, 4 encode secreted proteins and 3 encode membrane transporters. These results strongly support the idea that glia-neuron communication is vital for adult behavior.
Keywords: Drosophila; behavior; circadian rhythm; glia; locomotor activity; translational profiling.