Glial phagocytosis of superfluous neurons and damaged or aberrant neuronal material is crucial for normal development and maintenance of the CNS. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the relationship between neuronal death and glial phagocytosis are poorly understood. We describe a novel mechanism that is able to synchronize neuronal cell death and glial phagocytosis of dying neurons in the Drosophila embryonic CNS. This mechanism involves c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) signaling, which is required for developmental apoptosis of specific neurons during embryogenesis. We demonstrate that the dJNK pathway gain-of-function in neurons leads to dJNK signaling in glia, which results in upregulation of glial phagocytosis. Importantly, this promotion of phagocytosis is not mediated by upregulation of the glial phagocytic receptors SIMU and DRPR, but by increasing glial capacity to degrade apoptotic particles inside phagosomes. The proposed mechanism may be important for removal of damaged neurons in the developing and mature CNS.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Cancer Research
- Cell Biology