Engrailed controls glial/neuronal cell fate decisions at the midline of the central nervous system

Neuron. 1994 Sep;13(3):541-54. doi: 10.1016/0896-6273(94)90024-8.


The molecular mechanisms involved in glial/neuronal fate decisions during embryonic development are largely unknown. Here we show that the segment-polarity gene engrailed, which encodes a homeodomain protein, controls these decisions within an insect CNS lineage. The grasshopper median neuroblast (MNB) generates both neurons and midline glia in distinct temporal phases. engrailed expression in MNB progeny can be inhibited by injection of antisense oligodeoxynucleotides into the MNB nucleus. This produces a phenotype in which the midline glia do not develop and extra midline neurons are generated. In the absence of engrailed function, midline glial precursors are apparently converted into neuronal precursors. Thus, engrailed is required for execution of the decision between the glial and neuronal fates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Movement
  • Central Nervous System / cytology*
  • Central Nervous System / drug effects
  • Central Nervous System / physiology*
  • Gene Expression / drug effects
  • Genes, Insect*
  • Grasshoppers
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics*
  • Injections
  • Molecular Probes / genetics
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Neuroglia / drug effects
  • Neuroglia / physiology*
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense / pharmacology
  • Stem Cells / physiology


  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Molecular Probes
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense