Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

A role for the membrane protein M6 in the Drosophila visual system

María Paula Zappia12*, Guillermo Bernabo2, Silvia C Billi1, Alberto C Frasch1, María Fernanda Ceriani2* and Marcela Adriana Brocco1

Author affiliations

1 Instituto de Investigaciones Biotecnológicas “Dr. Rodolfo Ugalde”, Instituto Tecnológico de Chascomús, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, Universidad Nacional de San Martín, IIB, INTECH, CONICET-UNSAM, 25 de Mayo y Francia, Edificio IIB, B1650HMP, San Martín, Provincia de Buenos Aires, Argentina

2 Laboratorio de Genética del Comportamiento, Fundación Instituto Leloir and Instituto de Investigaciones Bioquímicas, Buenos Aires (IIB-BA, CONICET), Fundación Instituto Leloir, Av. Patricias Argentinas 435, 1405BWE, CABA, Buenos Aires, Argentina

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Citation and License

BMC Neuroscience 2012, 13:78  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-13-78

Published: 4 July 2012



Members of the proteolipid protein family, including the four-transmembrane glycoprotein M6a, are involved in neuronal plasticity in mammals. Results from our group previously demonstrated that M6, the only proteolipid protein expressed in Drosophila, localizes to the cell membrane in follicle cells. M6 loss triggers female sterility, which suggests a role for M6 in follicular cell remodeling. These results were the basis of the present study, which focused on the function and requirements of M6 in the fly nervous system.


The present study identified two novel, tissue-regulated M6 isoforms with variable N- and C- termini, and showed that M6 is the functional fly ortholog of Gpm6a. In the adult brain, the protein was localized to several neuropils, such as the optic lobe, the central complex, and the mushroom bodies. Interestingly, although reduced M6 levels triggered a mild rough-eye phenotype, hypomorphic M6 mutants exhibited a defective response to light.


Based on its ability to induce filopodium formation we propose that M6 is key in cell remodeling processes underlying visual system function. These results bring further insight into the role of M6/M6a in biological processes involving neuronal plasticity and behavior in flies and mammals.

Myelin PLP family; Gpm6a; Eye development; Phototactic behavior; Lifespan; Protrusion/filopodium formation; Cell remodeling