Review

Neuroscience Bulletin

, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 584-594

Glial cells in neuronal development: recent advances and insights from Drosophila melanogaster

  • Jiayao OuAffiliated withDepartment of Anatomy and Neurobiology, School of Medicine, Tongji University
  • , Yijing HeAffiliated withDepartment of Anatomy and Neurobiology, School of Medicine, Tongji University
  • , Xi XiaoAffiliated withDepartment of Anatomy and Neurobiology, School of Medicine, Tongji University
  • , Tian-Ming YuAffiliated withDepartment of Anatomy and Neurobiology, School of Medicine, Tongji University
  • , Changyan ChenAffiliated withSchool of Life Sciences, Tongji University
  • , Zongbao GaoAffiliated withDepartment of Anatomy and Neurobiology, School of Medicine, Tongji University
  • , Margaret S. HoAffiliated withDepartment of Anatomy and Neurobiology, School of Medicine, Tongji University Email author 

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Abstract

Glia outnumber neurons and are the most abundant cell type in the nervous system. Whereas neurons are the major carriers, transducers, and processors of information, glial cells, once considered mainly to play a passive supporting role, are now recognized for their active contributions to almost every aspect of nervous system development. Recently, insights from the invertebrate organism Drosophila melanogaster have advanced our knowledge of glial cell biology. In particular, findings on neuron-glia interactions via intrinsic and extrinsic mechanisms have shed light on the importance of glia during different stages of neuronal development. Here, we summarize recent advances in understanding the functions of Drosophila glia, which resemble their mammalian counterparts in morphology and function, neural stem-cell conversion, synapse formation, and developmental axon pruning. These discoveries reinforce the idea that glia are substantial players in the developing nervous system and further advance the understanding of mechanisms leading to neurodegeneration.

Keywords

glia neuronal development Gcm neurodegeneration neural stem cell synapse formation axon pruning