The development of different cell types must be tightly coordinated, and the eye-antennal imaginal discs of Drosophila melanogaster represent an excellent model to study the molecular mechanisms underlying this coordination. These imaginal discs contain the anlagen of nearly all adult head structures, such as the antennae, the head cuticle, the ocelli and the compound eyes. While large scale screens have been performed to unravel the gene regulatory network underlying compound eye development, a comprehensive understanding of genome wide expression dynamics throughout head development is still missing to date. We studied the genome wide gene expression dynamics during eye-antennal disc development in D. melanogaster to identify new central regulators of the underlying gene regulatory network. Expression based gene clustering and transcription factor motif enrichment analyses revealed a central regulatory role of the transcription factor Hunchback (Hb). We confirmed that hb is expressed in two polyploid retinal subperineurial glia cells (carpet cells). Our functional analysis shows that Hb is necessary for carpet cell development and we show for the first time that the carpet cells are an integral part of the blood-brain barrier.
Expression dynamics and role of Hunchback in visual system and brain development
Torres-Oliva M, Schneider J, Wiegleb G, Kaufholz F, Posnien N. (2018) Dynamic genome wide expression profiling of Drosophila head development reveals a novel role of Hunchback in retinal glia cell development and blood-brain barrier integrity. PLoS Genetics [Epub ahead of print]. [abstract]