The Drosophila N-CAM homolog Fasciclin II (FasII) is expressed during the embryonic period in a subset of central neurons that pioneer the neuropile of the larval brain. Toward the end of embryogenesis, FasII expression in axon tracts diminishes but resumes from the late first larval instar in an increasingly complex pattern of axon tracts that join the tracts laid down in the embryo. We present evidence that FasII is expressed in a major fraction of the long axon tracts that interconnect different domains of the larval brain. For many tracts, FasII expression remains stable throughout larval development and pupal development. Therefore, the FasII pattern of axon tracts, along with the mushroom body and optic lobe, both of which are also FasII-positive, represents a useful set of landmarks that define different regions in the Drosophila brain throughout development. In this study, serial confocal brain sections were used to generate digital three-dimensional models of larval axon tracts at different stages. These models form part of our effort to generate an anatomic framework of Drosophila larval brain structure required for accurate localization of gene expression and gene function in experimental studies of neural development.
Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.