Charting the Drosophila neuropile: a strategy for the standardised characterisation of genetically amenable neurites

Dev Biol. 2003 Aug 1;260(1):207-25. doi: 10.1016/s0012-1606(03)00215-x.


Insect neurons are individually identifiable and have been used successfully to study principles of the formation and function of neuronal circuits. In the fruitfly Drosophila, studies on identifiable neurons can be combined with efficient genetic approaches. However, to capitalise on this potential for studies of circuit formation in the CNS of Drosophila embryos or larvae, we need to identify pre- and postsynaptic elements of such circuits and describe the neuropilar territories they occupy. Here, we present a strategy for neurite mapping, using a set of evenly distributed landmarks labelled by commercially available anti-Fasciclin2 antibodies which remain comparatively constant between specimens and over developmental time. By applying this procedure to neurites labelled by three Gal4 lines, we show that neuritic territories are established in the embryo and maintained throughout larval life, although the complexity of neuritic arborisations increases during this period. Using additional immunostainings or dye fills, we can assign Gal4-targeted neurites to individual neurons and characterise them further as a reference for future experiments on circuit formation. Using the Fasciclin2-based mapping procedure as a standard (e.g., in a common database) would facilitate studies on the functional architecture of the neuropile and the identification of candiate circuit elements.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD8 Antigens / metabolism
  • Central Nervous System / cytology
  • Central Nervous System / embryology
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism
  • Drosophila / embryology*
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / cytology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Gene Targeting
  • Larva
  • Models, Biological
  • Neurites / metabolism*
  • Neurons, Efferent / cytology
  • Neurons, Efferent / metabolism
  • Neuropil / cytology
  • Neuropil / metabolism*
  • Time Factors


  • CD8 Antigens
  • Drosophila Proteins