A single-cell transcriptomic atlas of complete insect nervous systems across multiple life stages

Marc Corrales, Benjamin T. Cocanougher, Andrea B. Kohn, Jason D. Wittenbach, Xi S. Long, Andrew Lemire, Albert Cardona, Robert H. Singer, Leonid L. Moroz, Marta Zlatic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Molecular profiles of neurons influence neural development and function but bridging the gap between genes, circuits, and behavior has been very difficult. Here we used single cell RNAseq to generate a complete gene expression atlas of the Drosophila larval central nervous system composed of 131,077 single cells across three developmental stages (1 h, 24 h and 48 h after hatching). We identify 67 distinct cell clusters based on the patterns of gene expression. These include 31 functional mature larval neuron clusters, 1 ring gland cluster, 8 glial clusters, 6 neural precursor clusters, and 13 developing immature adult neuron clusters. Some clusters are present across all stages of larval development, while others are stage specific (such as developing adult neurons). We identify genes that are differentially expressed in each cluster, as well as genes that are differentially expressed at distinct stages of larval life. These differentially expressed genes provide promising candidates for regulating the function of specific neuronal and glial types in the larval nervous system, or the specification and differentiation of adult neurons. The cell transcriptome Atlas of the Drosophila larval nervous system is a valuable resource for developmental biology and systems neuroscience and provides a basis for elucidating how genes regulate neural development and function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8
JournalNeural Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Drosophila
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Neuroscience
  • scRNA sequencing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Neuroscience


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