Since its discovery in Drosophila
, the Notch signaling pathway has been studied in numerous developmental contexts in diverse multicellular organisms. The role of Notch signaling in nervous system development has been extensively investigated by numerous scientists, partially because many of the core Notch signaling components were initially identified through their dramatic ‘neurogenic’ phenotype of developing fruit fly embryos. Components of the Notch signaling pathway continue to be expressed in mature neurons and glia cells, which is suggestive of a role in the post-developmental nervous system. The Notch pathway has been, so far, implicated in learning and memory, social behavior, addiction, and other complex behaviors using genetic model organisms including Drosophila
and mice. Additionally, Notch signaling has been shown to play a modulatory role in several neurodegenerative disease model animals and in mediating neural toxicity of several environmental factors. In this paper, we summarize the knowledge pertaining to the post-developmental roles of Notch signaling in the nervous system with a focus on discoveries made using the fruit fly as a model system as well as relevant studies in C elegans
, mouse, rat, and cellular models. Since components of this pathway have been implicated in the pathogenesis of numerous psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders in human, understanding the role of Notch signaling in the mature brain using model organisms will likely provide novel insights into the mechanisms underlying these diseases.
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