Glial ensheathment of the somatodendritic compartment regulates sensory neuron structure and activity

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 Mar 12;116(11):5126-5134. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1814456116. Epub 2019 Feb 25.


Sensory neurons perceive environmental cues and are important of organismal survival. Peripheral sensory neurons interact intimately with glial cells. While the function of axonal ensheathment by glia is well studied, less is known about the functional significance of glial interaction with the somatodendritic compartment of neurons. Herein, we show that three distinct glia cell types differentially wrap around the axonal and somatodendritic surface of the polymodal dendritic arborization (da) neuron of the Drosophila peripheral nervous system for detection of thermal, mechanical, and light stimuli. We find that glial cell-specific loss of the chromatin modifier gene dATRX in the subperineurial glial layer leads to selective elimination of somatodendritic glial ensheathment, thus allowing us to investigate the function of such ensheathment. We find that somatodendritic glial ensheathment regulates the morphology of the dendritic arbor, as well as the activity of the sensory neuron, in response to sensory stimuli. Additionally, glial ensheathment of the neuronal soma influences dendritic regeneration after injury.

Keywords: ATRX; glia–neuron interaction; sensory neurons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / metabolism
  • Axons / radiation effects
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • DNA Helicases / metabolism
  • Dendrites / metabolism*
  • Dendrites / radiation effects
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism*
  • Enzyme Activation / radiation effects
  • Light
  • Neuroglia / metabolism*
  • Neuroglia / radiation effects
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / cytology*
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / metabolism*
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / radiation effects


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Caspases
  • XNP protein, Drosophila
  • DNA Helicases