Binary fate decisions in differentiating neurons

David Jukam, Claude Desplan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Neural cell fate programs must generate an enormous number of neurons with distinct adult functions. The decision to choose one neuronal subtype from two alternatives - a binary fate decision - is one way to diversify neuronal subtypes during nervous system development. Recent progress has been made in describing the genetic programs that define late-stage neuronal identity. Here, we review mechanisms that control how such fate decisions generate two different postmitotic, terminally differentiated neuronal subtypes. We survey examples from Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila that demonstrate different modes of binary neuronal fate specification that depend on cell division, lineage, stochastic gene expression, or extracellular signals. Comparison of these strategies reveals that, although organisms use diverse approaches to generate neural diversity, some common themes do exist.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6-13
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Opinion in Neurobiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Binary fate decisions in differentiating neurons'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this