Glia-derived temporal signals orchestrate neurogenesis in the Drosophila mushroom body.
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Support cells in the fruit-fly brain produce carefully timed molecular signals that orchestrate the formation of neurons involved in learning and memory.
A team led by ShanghaiTech University researchers examined the role of non-neural support cells known as glia in relaying protein signals to spur the creation of new neurons — an underexplored communication channel.
The researchers showed that in the mushroom body of insect brains, a key learning center for animal behaviour, glial cells produce an enzyme that alters the stability of two proteins. This, in turn, promotes the differentiation of neural stem cells into fully formed neurons in different parts of the brain.
The finding offers a window into how neural stem cells take cues from their surroundings to govern brain function — a process that is likely generalizable to humans.
- PNAS 118, e2020098118 (2021). doi: 10.1073/pnas.2020098118