Extrinsic activin signaling cooperates with an intrinsic temporal program to increase mushroom body neuronal diversity

Anthony M. Rossi, Claude Desplan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Temporal patterning of neural progenitors leads to the sequential production of diverse neurons. To understand how extrinsic cues influence intrinsic temporal programs, we studied Drosophila mushroom body progenitors (neuroblasts) that sequentially produce only three neuronal types: γ, then α'β', followed by αβ. Opposing gradients of two RNA-binding proteins Imp and Syp comprise the intrinsic temporal program. Extrinsic activin signaling regulates the production of α'β' neurons but whether it affects the intrinsic temporal program was not known. We show that the activin ligand Myoglianin from glia regulates the temporal factor Imp in mushroom body neuroblasts. Neuroblasts missing the activin receptor Baboon have a delayed intrinsic program as Imp is higher than normal during the α'β' temporal window, causing the loss of α'β' neurons, a decrease in αβ neurons, and a likely increase in γ neurons, without affecting the overall number of neurons produced. Our results illustrate that an extrinsic cue modifies an intrinsic temporal program to increase neuronal diversity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere58880
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
StatePublished - Jul 2020


  • Activins/metabolism
  • Animals
  • Drosophila Proteins/genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster/genetics
  • Ligands
  • Mushroom Bodies/physiology
  • Neural Stem Cells/physiology
  • Neurons/physiology
  • RNA-Binding Proteins/genetics
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta/genetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Neuroscience


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