glial cells missing: a binary switch between neuronal and glial determination in Drosophila

Cell. 1995 Sep 22;82(6):1025-36. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(95)90281-3.


In the Drosophila CNS, both neurons and glial are derived from neuroblasts. We have identified a gene, glial cells missing (gcm), that encodes a novel nuclear protein expressed transiently in early glial cells. Its mutation causes presumptive glial cells to differentiate into neurons, whereas its ectopic expression forces virtually all CNS cells to become glial cells. Thus, gcm functions as a binary switch that turns on glial fate while inhibiting default neuronal fate of the neuroblasts and their progeny. Similar results are also obtained in the PNS. Analyses of the mutant revealed that "pioneer neurons" can find correct pathways without glial cells and that neurons and glia have a common molecular basis for individual identity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Cell Movement / genetics
  • Central Nervous System / cytology
  • Central Nervous System / embryology
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / physiology
  • Genes, Insect / physiology
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Neuroglia / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics
  • Peripheral Nervous System / cytology
  • Peripheral Nervous System / embryology


  • Nuclear Proteins

Associated data

  • GENBANK/D64040