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22.02.19 Physical and molecular underpinnings of proneural wave in Drosophila optic lobe

last modified Feb 27, 2019 09:29 PM
The Simons and Brand labs combine expertise to show that a reaction-diffusion mechanism underlies a travelling wave of gene expression that turns neuroepithelial cells into neuroblasts
22.02.19 Physical and molecular underpinnings of proneural wave in Drosophila optic lobe

Optic lobe neuroepithelium (white), transition zone (cyan) and neuroblasts (red)

The proneural wave in the Drosophila optic lobe is driven by an excitable reaction-diffusion mechanism

DJ Jörg, EE Caygill, AE Hakes, EG Contreras, AH Brand, BD Simons (2019) eLife 8:e40919.  DOI: 10.7554/eLife.40919.


Abstract from the paper

In living organisms, self-organised waves of signalling activity propagate spatiotemporal information within tissues. During the development of the largest component of the visual processing centre of the Drosophila brain, a travelling wave of proneural gene expression initiates neurogenesis in the larval optic lobe primordium and drives the sequential transition of neuroepithelial cells into neuroblasts.

Here, we propose that this ‘proneural wave’ is driven by an excitable reaction-diffusion system involving epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signalling interacting with the proneural gene l’sc. Within this framework, a propagating transition zone emerges from molecular feedback and diffusion. Ectopic activation of EGFR signalling in clones within the neuroepithelium demonstrates that a transition wave can be excited anywhere in the tissue by inducing signalling activity, consistent with a key prediction of the model.

Our model illuminates the physical and molecular underpinnings of proneural wave progression and suggests a generic mechanism for regulating the sequential differentiation of tissues.


Read more about research in the Simons and Brand labs.

Watch Ben Simons and Andrea Brand describe their research fields on video.


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