A protocol for dissecting Drosophila melanogaster brains for live imaging or immunostaining

Nat Protoc. 2006;1(4):2110-5. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2006.336.


This protocol describes a basic method for dissection and immunofluorescence staining of the Drosophila brain at various developmental stages. The Drosophila brain has become increasingly useful for studies of neuronal wiring and morphogenesis in combination with techniques such as the 'mosaic analysis with a repressible cell marker' (MARCM) system, where single neurons can be followed in live and fixed tissues for high-resolution analysis of wild-type or genetically manipulated cells. Such high-resolution anatomical study of the brain is also important in characterizing the organization of neural circuits using genetic tools such as GAL4 enhancer trap lines, as Drosophila has been intensively used for studying the neural basis of behavior. Advantages of fluorescence immunostaining include compatibility with multicolor labeling and confocal or multiphoton imaging. This brain dissection and immunofluorescence staining protocol requires approximately 2 to 6 d to complete.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Dissection / methods*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / anatomy & histology*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / growth & development
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods*
  • Larva / anatomy & histology
  • Pupa / anatomy & histology