Axon routing across the midline controlled by the Drosophila Derailed receptor

Nature. 1999 Dec 2;402(6761):540-4. doi: 10.1038/990122.


In nervous systems with symmetry about the midline, many neurons project axons from one side to the other. Although several of the components controlling midline crossing have been identified, little is known about how axons choose the appropriate pathway when crossing. For example, in the Drosophila embryo axons cross the midline in one of two distinct tracts, the anterior or posterior commissure (AC or PC, respec tively). Here we show that the Derailed (Drl) receptor tyrosine kinase is expressed by neurons that project in the AC, and that in the absence of Drl such neurons often project abnormally into the PC. Conversely, misexpression of Drl in PC neurons forces them to cross in the AC. The behaviour of Drl-misexpressing neurons and the in vivo binding pattern of a soluble Drl receptor probe indicate that Drl acts as a guidance receptor for a repellent ligand present in the PC. Our results show that Drl is a novel component in the control of midline crossing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Movement
  • Drosophila / embryology
  • Drosophila Proteins*
  • Nervous System / cytology
  • Nervous System / embryology
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / physiology*


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • DRL protein, Drosophila
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases