Chemokine-like Orion is involved in the transformation of glial cells into phagocytes in different developmental neuronal remodeling paradigms

Development. 2023 Oct 1;150(19):dev201633. doi: 10.1242/dev.201633. Epub 2023 Oct 2.


During animal development, neurons often form exuberant or inappropriate axons and dendrites at early stages, followed by the refinement of neuronal circuits at late stages. Neural circuit refinement leads to the production of neuronal debris in the form of neuronal cell corpses, fragmented axons and dendrites, and pruned synapses requiring disposal. Glial cells act as predominant phagocytes during neuronal remodeling and degeneration, and crucial signaling pathways between neurons and glia are necessary for the execution of phagocytosis. Chemokine-like mushroom body neuron-secreted Orion is essential for astrocyte infiltration into the γ axon bundle leading to γ axon pruning. Here, we show a role of Orion in debris engulfment and phagocytosis in Drosophila. Interestingly, Orion is involved in the overall transformation of astrocytes into phagocytes. In addition, analysis of several neuronal paradigms demonstrates the role of Orion in eliminating both peptidergic vCrz+ and PDF-Tri neurons via additional phagocytic glial cells like cortex and/or ensheathing glia. Our results suggest that Orion is essential for phagocytic activation of astrocytes, cortex and ensheathing glia, and point to Orion as a trigger of glial infiltration, engulfment and phagocytosis.

Keywords: Drosophila; Axon and cell body remodeling; Chemokine-like Orion; Glia; Neuron; Phagocytosis.