The Drosophila ventral nerve cord (VNC) is composed of thousands of neurons born from a set of individually identifiable stem cells. The VNC harbors neuronal circuits required to execute key behaviors, such as flying and walking. Leveraging the lineage-based functional organization of the VNC, we investigated the developmental and molecular basis of behavior by focusing on lineage-specific functions of the homeodomain transcription factor, Unc-4. We found that Unc-4 functions in lineage 11A to promote cholinergic neurotransmitter identity and suppress the GABA fate. In lineage 7B, Unc-4 promotes proper neuronal projections to the leg neuropil and a specific flight-related take-off behavior. We also uncovered that Unc-4 acts peripherally to promote proprioceptive sensory organ development and the execution of specific leg-related behaviors. Through time-dependent conditional knock-out of Unc-4, we found that its function is required during development, but not in the adult, to regulate the above events.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere55007
StatePublished - Mar 2020


  • And Drosophila
  • Behavior
  • Flight take-off
  • Neuroblast
  • Neuronal lineages
  • Unc-4


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