Illuminati: a form of gene expression plasticity in Drosophila neural stem cells
While testing for genome instability in Drosophila as reported by unscheduled upregulation of UAS-GFP in cells that co-express GAL80 and GAL4, we noticed that, as expected, background levels were low in most developing tissues. However, GFP-positive clones were frequent in the larval brain. Most of these clones originated from central brain neural stem cells. Using imaging-based approaches and genome sequencing, we show that these unscheduled clones do not result from chromosome loss or mutations in GAL80. We have named this phenomenon ‘Illuminati’. Illuminati is strongly enhanced in brat tumors and is also sensitive to environmental conditions such as food content and temperature. Illuminati is suppressed by Su(var)2-10, but it is not significantly affected by several modifiers of position effect variegation or Gal4::UAS variegation. We conclude that Illuminati identifies a previously unknown type of functional instability that may have important implications in development and disease.