Hunchback suppresses Notch induced apoptosis in the serotonergic lineage of Drosophila

Date

2009

Authors

Venkatanarayan, Avinashnarayan

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Abstract

Apoptosis is a fundamental event that eliminates unnecessary cells during the development of multicellular organisms. Many of the enzymes and regulatory proteins that activate programmed cell death are conserved throughout evolution. The fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster is an excellent model organism to delineate the genetics and biochemical pathways that govern the regulation of cell death. During development of the Drosophila central nervous system many cells undergo apoptosis during the specification of cell fates. This dissertation examines the regulation of apoptotic events that occur during the specification of the serotonergic lineage in Drosophila

The serotonergic lineage produces six progeny cells two of which undergo apoptosis. Previous studies have shown that Notch signaling induces apoptosis in these cells. This thesis provides evidence that the transcription factor Hunchback can suppress Notch-induced apoptosis in the serotonergic lineage. We demonstrate that, ectopic expression of hunchback changes the cell fate of the apoptotic cells such that they acquire molecular characteristics similar to serotonergic neurons. We also show that this change in cell fate is temporary and that when Hunchback levels decrease the cells return to their normal apoptotic cell fate. Another transcription factor Zfh-2 has also been shown to be involved in the activation of apoptosis in the serotonergic lineage. Here we examine the relationship between hunchback and zfh-2 expression during development.

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Keywords

APOPTOSIS, DEVELOPMENT, DROSOPHILA, HUNCHBACK, NEUROBLAST, SEROTONERGIC LINEAGE

Citation

Department

Integrative Biology