Embryonic development of axon pathways in the Drosophila CNS. I. A glial scaffold appears before the first growth cones
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Three classes of glial cells are present early in embryogenesis and appear to play a major role in axon pathway formation in the Drosophila CNS. Six longitudinal glial (LG) cells are present over the longitudinal connective on each side of each segment. Six midline glia (MG) cells surround the anterior and posterior commissures of each segment. Finally, the intersegmental nerve root is covered by a glial cell: the segment boundary cell (SBC). All 3 classes of glial cells are present in their final position before axon outgrowth and their pattern prefigures the first axon pathways. The pioneer growth cones that establish the first axon pathways in the longitudinal connective and intersegmental nerve extend along the elongate surface of the LG and SBC glial cells; the pioneer growth cones for the anterior and posterior commissures extend toward and make close contact with the end feet of the MG glial cells. Later, all 3 classes of glial cells enwrap the axon tracts in much the same way as vertebrate oligodendrocytes. The results suggest that these early glial cells provide guidance cues for the first growth cones in the Drosophila CNS. More than simply providing a permissive substrate, the differential extension of specific early growth cones towards either the MG cells or along the LG cells suggests an active role for these glia in growth cone guidance.
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