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Neuron-glia cellular interactions

Nathalie Davoust

The three main classes of central nervous system (CNS) glia in Drosophila – cortex, neuropil, and surface glial cells - exhibit many morphological and functional similarities to their mammalian counterparts. i) Cortex glia (or cell-body-associated glia) are located in close vicinity to neuronal cell bodies and are considered as exerting astrocyte-like functions. ii) Neuropil glial cells, like oligodendrocytes, are extending sheath-like membrane structures around target axons. iii) Surface glial cells are located at the surface of the CNS and exert barrier-like functions. The three populations described above are competent to perform immune-related functions and notably phagocytosis. As the fly nervous system is less complex and much more accessible experimentally than in rodent, we propose to take advantage of the fly to elucidate neuron-glia interactions during neurodegeneration. Several Parkinson disease (PD) models have already been developed in Drosophila, notably the loss of pink1 function mutant and the paraquat neurotoxic model. We are using these two PD models to discover new glial-related factors or signaling pathways involved in PD.