The embryonic central nervous system lineages of Drosophila melanogaster. II. Neuroblast lineages derived from the dorsal part of the neuroectoderm

Dev Biol. 1997 Sep 15;189(2):186-204. doi: 10.1006/dbio.1997.8660.


In Drosophila, central nervous system (CNS) formation starts with the delamination from the neuroectoderm of about 30 neuroblasts (NBs) per hemisegment. They give rise to approximately 350 neurons and 30 glial cells during embryonic development. Understanding the mechanisms leading to cell fate specification and differentiation in the CNS requires the identification of the NB lineages. The embryonic lineages derived from 17 NBs of the ventral part of the neuroectoderm have previously been described (Bossing et al., 1996). Here we present 13 lineages derived from the dorsal part of the neuroectoderm and we assign 12 of them to identified NBs. Together, the 13 lineages comprise approximately 120 neurons and 22 to 27 glial cells which we include in a systematic terminology. Therefore, NBs from the dorsal neuroectoderm produce about 90% of the glial cells in the embryonic ventral ganglion. Two of the NBs give rise to glial progeny exclusively (NB 6-4A, GP) and five to glia as well as neurons (NBs 1-3, 2-5, 5-6, 6-4T, 7-4). These seven NBs are arranged as a group in the most lateral region of the NB layer. The other lineages (NBs 2-4, 3-3, 3-5, 4-3, 4-4, 5-4, clone y) are composed exclusively of neurons (interneurons, motoneurons, or both). Additionally, it has been possible to link the lateral cluster of even-skipped expressing cells (EL) to the lineage of NB 3-3. Along with the previously described clones, the vast majority (more than 90%) of cell lineages in the embryonic ventral nerve cord (thorax, abdomen) are now known. Moreover, previously identified neurons and most glial cells are now linked to certain lineages and, thus, to particular NBs. This complete set of data provides a foundation for the interpretation of mutant phenotypes and for future investigations on cell fate specification and differentiation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Communication
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Lineage
  • Central Nervous System / embryology*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / embryology*
  • Ectoderm / cytology*
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Models, Molecular
  • Neuroglia / cytology
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Phenotype