Draper-mediated JNK signaling is required for glial phagocytosis of apoptotic neurons during Drosophila metamorphosis

Reut Hilu-Dadia, Ketty Hakim-Mishnaevski, Flonia Levy-Adam, Estee Kurant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Development of the central nervous system involves elimination of superfluous neurons through apoptosis and subsequent phagocytosis. In Drosophila, this occurs mainly during three developmental stages: embryogenesis, metamorphosis and emerging adult. Two transmembrane glial phagocytic receptors, SIMU (homolog of the mammalian Stabilin-2) and Draper (homolog of the mammalian MEGF10 and Jedi), mediate glial phagocytosis of apoptotic neurons during embryogenesis. However, less is known about the removal of apoptotic neurons during later stages of development. Here we show that during metamorphosis, Draper plays a critical role in apoptotic cell clearance by glia, whereas SIMU, which is mostly expressed in pupal macrophages outside the brain, is not involved in glial phagocytosis. We found that Draper activates Drosophila c-Jun N-terminal kinase (dJNK) signaling predominantly in the ensheathing glia and astrocytes, where it is required for efficient removal of apoptotic neurons. Our data suggest that besides the dJNK pathway, Draper also triggers an additional signaling pathway capable of removing apoptotic neurons in the pupal brain. This study thus reveals that SIMU unexpectedly is not involved in glial phagocytosis of apoptotic neurons during metamorphosis and highlights the novel role of dJNK signaling in developmental apoptotic cell clearance downstream of Draper.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1520-1532
Number of pages13
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


  • Draper
  • Drosophila
  • JNK
  • SIMU
  • phagocytosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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