Dilp-2-mediated PI3-kinase activation coordinates reactivation of quiescent neuroblasts with growth of their glial stem cell niche

PLoS Biol. 2020 May 28;18(5):e3000721. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3000721. eCollection 2020 May.


Dietary nutrients provide macromolecules necessary for organism growth and development. In response to animal feeding, evolutionarily conserved growth signaling pathways are activated, leading to increased rates of cell proliferation and tissue growth. It remains unclear how different cell types within developing tissues coordinate growth in response to dietary nutrients and whether coordinated growth of different cell types is necessary for proper tissue function. Using the early Drosophila larval brain, we asked whether nutrient-dependent growth of neural stem cells (neuroblasts), glia, and trachea is coordinated and whether coordinated growth among these major brain cell types is required for neural development. It is known that in response to dietary nutrients and PI3-kinase activation, brain and ventral nerve cord neuroblasts reactivate from quiescence and ventral nerve cord glia expand their membranes. Here, we assay growth in a cell-type specific manner at short time intervals in the brain and determine that growth is coordinated among different cell types and that coordinated growth is mediated in part through activation of PI3-kinase signaling. Of the 7 Drosophila insulin-like peptides (Dilps), we find that Dilp-2 is required for PI3-kinase activation and growth coordination between neuroblasts and glia in the brain. Dilp-2 induces brain cortex glia to initiate membrane growth and make first contact with quiescent neuroblasts. Once reactivated, neuroblasts promote cortex glia growth to ultimately form a selective membrane barrier. Our results highlight the importance of bidirectional growth signaling between neural stem cells and surrounding cell types in the brain in response to nutrition and demonstrate how coordinated growth among different cell types drives tissue morphogenesis and function.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / growth & development
  • Drosophila / enzymology
  • Drosophila / growth & development*
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Eating
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Larva / growth & development
  • Morphogenesis
  • Neural Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Neuroglia / physiology*
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism*
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Stem Cell Niche


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • ILP2 protein, Drosophila
  • Neuropeptides