Glial ensheathment of peripheral axons in Drosophila

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Abstract

The ensheathment of neurons and their axons creates an ion-sensitive microenvironment that allows rapid conduction of nerve impulses. One of the fundamental questions about axonal ensheathment is how insulating glial cells wrap around axons. The mechanisms that underlie insulation of axons in invertebrates and vertebrates are not fully understood. In the present article we address cellular aspects of axonal ensheathment in Drosophila by taking advantage of glial mutants that illustrate a range of phenotypic defects including ensheathment of axons. From the findings of these mutant studies, we summarize that loss of glial cells, defects in glial membrane wrapping, failure of glial migration, and loss of specialized ladderlike septate junctions between ensheathing glial membranes result in axon-glial functional defects. These studies provide a broad perspective on glial ensheathment of axons in Drosophila and key insights into the anatomical and cellular aspects of axonal insulation. Given the powerful genetic approaches available in Drosophila, the axonal ensheathment process can be dissected in great detail to reveal the fundamental principles of ensheathment. These observations will be relevant to understanding the very similar processes in vertebrates, where defects in glial cell functions lead to devastating neurological diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1189-1198
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Research
Volume86
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2008

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Keywords

  • Actin cytoskeleton
  • Exit glia
  • Glial migration
  • Peripheral glia
  • Septate junctions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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