To study the roles of intracellular factors in neuronal morphogenesis, we used the mosaic analysis with a repressible cell marker (MARCM) technique to visualize identifiable single multiple dendritic (MD) neurons in living Drosophila larvae. We found that individual neurons in the peripheral nervous system (PNS) developed clear morphological polarity and diverse dendritic branching patterns in larval stages. Each MD neuron in the same dorsal cluster developed a unique dendritic field, suggesting that they have specific physiological functions. Single-neuron analysis revealed that Flamingo did not affect the general dendritic branching patterns in postmitotic neurons. Instead, Flamingo limited the extension of one or more dorsal dendrites without grossly affecting lateral branches. The dendritic overextension phenotype was partially conferred by the precocious initiation of dorsal dendrites in flamingo mutant embryos. In addition, Flamingo is required cell autonomously to promote axonal growth and to prevent premature axonal branching of PNS neurons. Our molecular analysis also indicated that the amino acid sequence near the first EGF motif is important for the proper localization and function of Flamingo. These results demonstrate that Flamingo plays a role in early neuronal differentiation and exerts specific effects on dendrites and axons.
(c) 2002 Elsevier Science (USA).