Surprises from Drosophila: genetic mechanisms of synaptic development and plasticity

Brain Res Bull. 2000 Nov 15;53(5):501-11. doi: 10.1016/s0361-9230(00)00383-x.


Drosophila are excellent models for the study of synaptic development and plasticity, thanks to the availability and applicability of a wide variety of powerful molecular, genetic, and cell-biology techniques. Three decades of study have led to an intimate understanding of the sequence of events leading to a functional and plastic synapse, yet many of the molecular mechanisms underlying these events are still poorly understood. Here, we provide a review of synaptogenesis at the Drosophila glutamatergic neuromuscular junction (NMJ). Next, we discuss the role of two proteins that forward genetic screens in Drosophila have revealed to play crucial-and completely unexpected-roles in NMJ development and plasticity: the origin of replication complex protein Latheo, and the enzyme glutamate decarboxylase. The requirement for these proteins at the NMJ highlights the fact that synaptic development and plasticity involves intense inter- and intracellular signaling about which we know almost nothing.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication / genetics
  • Drosophila / embryology*
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Drosophila / metabolism
  • Models, Animal
  • Nervous System / cytology
  • Nervous System / embryology*
  • Nervous System / metabolism
  • Neuromuscular Junction / cytology
  • Neuromuscular Junction / embryology*
  • Neuromuscular Junction / metabolism
  • Neuronal Plasticity / genetics*
  • Synapses / metabolism*
  • Synapses / ultrastructure