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Lapsyn controls branch extension and positioning of astrocyte-like glia in the Drosophila optic lobe

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posted on 13.10.2020 by Benjamin Richier, Cristina De Miguel Vijandi, Stefanie Mackensen, Iris Salecker
Astrocytes have diverse, remarkably complex shapes in different brain regions. Their branches closely associate with neurons. Despite the importance of this heterogeneous glial cell type for brain development and function, the molecular cues controlling astrocyte branch morphogenesis and positioning during neural circuit assembly remain largely unknown. We found that in the Drosophila visual system, astrocyte-like medulla neuropil glia (mng) variants acquire stereotypic morphologies with columnar and layered branching patterns in a stepwise fashion from mid-metamorphosis onwards. Using knockdown and loss-of-function analyses, we uncovered a previously unrecognized role for the transmembrane leucine-rich repeat protein Lapsyn in regulating mng development. lapsyn is expressed in mng and cell-autonomously required for branch extension into the synaptic neuropil and anchoring of cell bodies at the neuropil border. Lapsyn works in concert with the fibroblast growth factor (FGF) pathway to promote branch morphogenesis, while correct positioning is essential for mng survival mediated by gliotrophic FGF signaling.How glial cells, such as astrocytes, acquire their characteristic morphology during development is poorly understood. Here the authors describe the morphogenesis of astrocyte-like glia in the Drosophila optic lobe, and through a RNAi screen, they identify a transmembrane LRR protein-Lapsyn-that plays a critical role in this process.

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