Mutations in the genes for components of the dynein-dynactin complex disrupt axon path finding and synaptogenesis during metamorphosis in the Drosophila central nervous system. In order to better understand the functions of this retrograde motor in nervous system assembly, we analyzed the path finding and arborization of sensory axons during metamorphosis in wild-type and mutant backgrounds. In wild-type specimens the sensory axons first reach the CNS 6-12 h after puparium formation and elaborate their terminal arborizations over the next 48 h. In Glued1 and Cytoplasmic dynein light chain mutants, proprioceptive and tactile axons arrive at the CNS on time but exhibit defects in terminal arborizations that increase in severity up to 48 h after puparium formation. The results show that axon growth occurs on schedule in these mutants but the final process of terminal branching, synaptogenesis, and stabilization of these sensory axons requires the dynein-dynactin complex. Since this complex functions as a retrograde motor, we suggest that a retrograde signal needs to be transported to the nucleus for the proper termination of some sensory neurons.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.