Neurotransmitter identity is acquired in a lineage-restricted manner in the Drosophila CNS

Haluk Lacin, Hui Min Chen, Xi Long, Robert H. Singer, Tzumin Lee, James W. Truman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


The vast majority of the adult fly ventral nerve cord is composed of 34 hemilineages, which are clusters of lineally related neurons. Neurons in these hemilineages use one of the three fast-acting neurotransmitters (acetylcholine, GABA, or glutamate) for communication. We generated a comprehensive neurotransmitter usage map for the entire ventral nerve cord. We did not find any cases of neurons using more than one neurotransmitter, but found that the acetylcholine specific gene ChAT is transcribed in many glutamatergic and GABAergic neurons, but these transcripts typically do not leave the nucleus and are not translated. Importantly, our work uncovered a simple rule: All neurons within a hemilineage use the same neurotransmitter. Thus, neurotransmitter identity is acquired at the stem cell level. Our detailed transmitter- usage/lineage identity map will be a great resource for studying the developmental basis of behavior and deciphering how neuronal circuits function to regulate behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere43701
StatePublished - Mar 2019


  • Drosophila
  • Neuroblast
  • Neuronal lineages
  • Neurotransmitter
  • Stem cell


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