During CNS development there is prominent expansion of the anterior region, the brain. In Drosophila, anterior CNS expansion emerges from three rostral features: 1) increased progenitor cell generation, 2) extended progenitor cell proliferation, 3) more proliferative daughters. We find that tailless (mouse Nr2E1/Tlx), otp/Rx/hbn (Otp/Arx/Rax) and Doc1/2/3 (Tbx2/3/6) are important for brain progenitor generation. These genes, and earmuff (FezF1/2), are also important for subsequent progenitor and/or daughter cell proliferation in the brain. Brain TF co-misexpression can drive brain-profile proliferation in the nerve cord, and can reprogram developing wing discs into brain neural progenitors. Brain TF expression is promoted by the PRC2 complex, acting to keep the brain free of anti-proliferative and repressive action of Hox homeotic genes. Hence, anterior expansion of the Drosophila CNS is mediated by brain TF driven 'super-generation' of progenitors, as well as 'hyper-proliferation' of progenitor and daughter cells, promoted by PRC2-mediated repression of Hox activity.

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All data generated or analysed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Jesús Rodriguez Curt

    Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Linkoping University, Linkoping, Sweden
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Behzad Yaghmaeian Salmani

    Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Linkoping University, Linkoping, Sweden
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Stefan Thor

    Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Linkoping University, Linkoping, Sweden
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-5095-541X


Knut och Alice Wallenbergs Stiftelse (KAW2011.0165)

  • Stefan Thor

Vetenskapsrådet (621-2013-5258)

  • Stefan Thor

Cancerfonden (140780; 150663)

  • Stefan Thor

Knut och Alice Wallenbergs Stiftelse (KAW2012.0101)

  • Stefan Thor

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Reviewing Editor

  1. K VijayRaghavan, National Centre for Biological Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, India

Publication history

  1. Received: January 17, 2019
  2. Accepted: July 3, 2019
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: July 4, 2019 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: July 16, 2019 (version 2)


© 2019, Curt et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


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  1. Jesús Rodriguez Curt
  2. Behzad Yaghmaeian Salmani
  3. Stefan Thor
Anterior CNS expansion driven by brain transcription factors
eLife 8:e45274.

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