Most neurons of the adult Drosophila ventral nerve cord arise from a burst of neurogenesis during the third larval instar stage. Most of this growth occurs in thoracic neuromeres, which contain 25 individually identifiable postembryonic neuronal lineages. Initially, each lineage consists of two hemilineages - 'A' (NotchOn) and 'B' (NotchOff) - that exhibit distinct axonal trajectories or fates. No reliable method presently exists to identify these lineages or hemilineages unambiguously other than labor-intensive lineage-tracing methods. By combining mosaic analysis with a repressible cell marker (MARCM) analysis with gene expression studies, we constructed a gene expression map that enables the rapid, unambiguous identification of 23 of the 25 postembryonic lineages based on the expression of 15 transcription factors. Pilot genetic studies reveal that these transcription factors regulate the specification and differentiation of postembryonic neurons: for example, Nkx6 is necessary and sufficient to direct axonal pathway selection in lineage 3. The gene expression map thus provides a descriptive foundation for the genetic and molecular dissection of adult-specific neurogenesis and identifies many transcription factors that are likely to regulate the development and differentiation of discrete subsets of postembryonic neurons.
- Adult neurogenesis
- Gee expression map