Document Type

Peer Reviewed/Refereed Publication

Publication Date


Publication Title

Communications Biology


Biological Science


Jesse D. Jones College of Science, Engineering and Technology


Membraneless RNA-protein granules play important roles in many different cell types and organisms. In particular, granules found in germ cells have been used as a paradigm to study large and dynamic granules. These germ granules contain RNA and proteins required for germline development. Here, we unexpectedly identify large granules in specific subtypes of glial cells (“glial granules”) of the adult Drosophila brain which contain polypeptides with previously characterized roles in germ cells including scaffold Tudor, Vasa, Polar granule component and Piwi family proteins. Interestingly, our super-resolution microscopy analysis shows that in the glial granules, these proteins form distinct partially overlapping clusters. Furthermore, we show that glial granule scaffold protein Tudor functions in silencing of transposable elements and in small regulatory piRNA biogenesis. Remarkably, our data indicate that the adult brain contains a small population of cells, which express both neuroblast and germ cell proteins. These distinct cells are evolutionarily conserved and expand during aging suggesting the existence of age-dependent signaling. Our work uncovers previously unknown glial granules and indicates the involvement of their components in the regulation of brain transcriptome.


This is an article published in Communications Biology by Nature, available at

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Included in

Biology Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.