Molecular genetic approaches in small model organisms like Drosophila have helped to elucidate fundamental principles of neuronal cell biology. Much less is understood about glial cells, although interest in using invertebrate preparations to define their in vivo functions has increased significantly in recent years. This review focuses on our current understanding of the three major neuron-associated glial cell types found in the Drosophila central nervous system (CNS)—astrocytes, cortex glia, and ensheathing glia. Together, these cells act like mammalian astrocytes: they surround neuronal cell bodies and proximal neurites, are coupled to the vasculature, and associate closely with synapses. Exciting recent work has shown essential roles for these CNS glial cells in neural circuit formation, function, plasticity, and pathology. As we gain a more firm molecular and cellular understanding of how Drosophila CNS glial cells interact with neurons, it is becoming clear they share significant molecular and functional attributes with mammalian astrocytes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)