Intrinsic control of precise dendritic targeting by an ensemble of transcription factors

Curr Biol. 2007 Feb 6;17(3):278-85. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2006.11.067.


Proper information processing in neural circuits requires establishment of specific connections between pre- and postsynaptic neurons. Targeting specificity of neurons is instructed by cell-surface receptors on the growth cones of axons and dendrites, which confer responses to external guidance cues. Expression of cell-surface receptors is in turn regulated by neuron-intrinsic transcriptional programs. In the Drosophila olfactory system, each projection neuron (PN) achieves precise dendritic targeting to one of 50 glomeruli in the antennal lobe. PN dendritic targeting is specified by lineage and birth order , and their initial targeting occurs prior to contact with axons of their presynaptic partners, olfactory receptor neurons. We search for transcription factors (TFs) that control PN-intrinsic mechanisms of dendritic targeting. We previously identified two POU-domain TFs, acj6 and drifter, as essential players. After testing 13 additional candidates, we identified four TFs (LIM-homeodomain TFs islet and lim1, the homeodomain TF cut, and the zinc-finger TF squeeze) and the LIM cofactor Chip that are required for PN dendritic targeting. These results begin to provide insights into the global strategy of how an ensemble of TFs regulates wiring specificity of a large number of neurons constituting a neural circuit.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dendrites / genetics
  • Dendrites / metabolism*
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Drosophila / metabolism
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism
  • Nerve Net / metabolism*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Olfactory Receptor Neurons / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Zinc Fingers / genetics


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Transcription Factors