Nervous system function is entirely dependent on the intricate and precise pattern of connections made by individual neurons. Much of the insightful research into mechanisms underlying the development of this pattern of connections has been done in insect nervous systems. Studies of developmental mechanisms have revealed critical interactions between neurons and glia, the non-neuronal cells of the nervous system. Glial cells provide trophic support for neurons, act as struts for migrating neurons and growing axons, form boundaries that restrict neuritic growth, and have reciprocal interactions with neurons that govern specification of cell fate and axonal pathfinding. The molecular mechanisms underlying these interactions are beginning to be understood. Because many of the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying neural development appear to be common across disparate insect species, and even between insects and vertebrates, studies in developing insect nervous systems are elucidating mechanisms likely to be of broad significance.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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