A gene expression atlas of embryonic neurogenesis in Drosophila reveals complex spatiotemporal regulation of lncRNAs

Development. 2019 Mar 28;146(6):dev175265. doi: 10.1242/dev.175265.


Cell type specification during early nervous system development in Drosophila melanogaster requires precise regulation of gene expression in time and space. Resolving the programs driving neurogenesis has been a major challenge owing to the complexity and rapidity with which distinct cell populations arise. To resolve the cell type-specific gene expression dynamics in early nervous system development, we have sequenced the transcriptomes of purified neurogenic cell types across consecutive time points covering crucial events in neurogenesis. The resulting gene expression atlas comprises a detailed resource of global transcriptome dynamics that permits systematic analysis of how cells in the nervous system acquire distinct fates. We resolve known gene expression dynamics and uncover novel expression signatures for hundreds of genes among diverse neurogenic cell types, most of which remain unstudied. We also identified a set of conserved long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) that are regulated in a tissue-specific manner and exhibit spatiotemporal expression during neurogenesis with exquisite specificity. lncRNA expression is highly dynamic and demarcates specific subpopulations within neurogenic cell types. Our spatiotemporal transcriptome atlas provides a comprehensive resource for investigating the function of coding genes and noncoding RNAs during crucial stages of early neurogenesis.

Keywords: Drosophila melanogaster; Embryogenesis; Neurogenesis; Spatiotemporal transcriptome; lncRNA.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Lineage
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Gene Regulatory Networks
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Nervous System / embryology*
  • Neurogenesis / genetics*
  • Neuroglia / physiology
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA, Long Noncoding / genetics*
  • Transcriptome


  • RNA, Long Noncoding