Notch activity in neural cells triggered by a mutant allele with altered glycosylation

Yanxia Li, Liang Li, Kenneth D. Irvine, Nicholas E. Baker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The receptor protein Notch is inactive in neural precursor cells despite neighboring cells expressing ligands. We investigated specification of the R8 neural photoreceptor cells that initiate differentiation of each Drosophila ommatidium. The ligand Delta was required in R8 cells themselves, consistent with a lateral inhibitor function for Delta. By contrast, Delta expressed in cells adjacent to R8 could not activate Notch in R8 cells. The split mutation of Notch was found to activate signaling in R8 precursor cells, blocking differentiation and leading to altered development and neural cell death. split did not affect other, inductive functions of Notch. The Ile578→Thr578 substitution responsible for the split mutation introduced a new site for O-fucosylation on EGF repeat 14 of the Notch extracellular domain. The O-fucose monosaccharide did not require extension by Fringe to confer the phenotype. Our results suggest functional differences between Notch in neural and non-neural cells. R8 precursor cells are protected from lateral inhibition by Delta. The protection is affected by modifications of a particular EGF repeat in the Notch extracellular domain. These results suggest that the pattern of neurogenesis is determined by blocking Notch signaling, as well as by activating Notch signaling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2829-2840
Number of pages12
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 2003


  • Delta
  • Drosophila eye
  • Fringe
  • Lateral inhibition
  • Neurogenesis
  • Notch
  • O-fucose

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology


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