Projections of Drosophila multidendritic neurons in the central nervous system: links with peripheral dendrite morphology

Development. 2007 Jan;134(1):55-64. doi: 10.1242/dev.02666.


Neurons establish diverse dendritic morphologies during development, and a major challenge is to understand how these distinct developmental programs might relate to, and influence, neuronal function. Drosophila dendritic arborization (da) sensory neurons display class-specific dendritic morphology with extensive coverage of the body wall. To begin to build a basis for linking dendrite structure and function in this genetic system, we analyzed da neuron axon projections in embryonic and larval stages. We found that multiple parameters of axon morphology, including dorsoventral position, midline crossing and collateral branching, correlate with dendritic morphological class. We have identified a class-specific medial-lateral layering of axons in the central nervous system formed during embryonic development, which could allow different classes of da neurons to develop differential connectivity to second-order neurons. We have examined the effect of Robo family members on class-specific axon lamination, and have also taken a forward genetic approach to identify new genes involved in axon and dendrite development. For the latter, we screened the third chromosome at high resolution in vivo for mutations that affect class IV da neuron morphology. Several known loci, as well as putative novel mutations, were identified that contribute to sensory dendrite and/or axon patterning. This collection of mutants, together with anatomical data on dendrites and axons, should begin to permit studies of dendrite diversity in a combined developmental and functional context, and also provide a foundation for understanding shared and distinct mechanisms that control axon and dendrite morphology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Central Nervous System / embryology
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism
  • Central Nervous System / physiology*
  • Dendrites / metabolism
  • Dendrites / physiology*
  • Drosophila / embryology
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Drosophila / growth & development*
  • Drosophila / metabolism
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian
  • Ethyl Methanesulfonate
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Larva / growth & development
  • Larva / metabolism
  • Morphogenesis
  • Mutagens
  • Mutation
  • Neurons, Afferent / classification
  • Neurons, Afferent / cytology*
  • Neurons, Afferent / metabolism*


  • Mutagens
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Ethyl Methanesulfonate