Development of the Peripheral Nervous System in Drosophila
The sense organs of insects are epidemial derivatives composed of one or more sensory neurons and a set of support (nonneural) cells (see chapter by Blagbum and Bacon, this volume). The neuron(s) and support cells that form one sense organ are descendants of a single precursor cell, the sensory mother cell (SMC). Before being committed to its developmental fate this cell is indistinguishable from the neighbouring cells which will differentiate as epidermal cells and secrete cuticle. Thus the generation of a specific sense organ is the result of two consecutive events: the determination of precursor cells at specific locations of the epidermis, and the cellular differentiation of their progeny. Dr. Ghysen and colleagues have studied this process in the case of the peripheral nervous system (PNS) of Drosophila, where all larval and many adult sensory organs (SO) can be uniquely identified according to position and type. The reproducibility of the patterns, together with the known advantages of Drosophila for genetic studies, make the fly PNS an excellent model system to investigate how defined arrays of neurons arise during the development and how position affects cellular behavior.
KeywordsSensory Neuron Lateral Inhibition Sense Organ Wing Disc Sensory Axon
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