Recognition of pre- and postsynaptic neurons via nephrin/NEPH1 homologs is a basis for the formation of the Drosophila retinotopic map

Development. 2010 Oct;137(19):3303-13. doi: 10.1242/dev.047332. Epub 2010 Aug 19.


Topographic maps, which maintain the spatial order of neurons in the order of their axonal connections, are found in many parts of the nervous system. Here, we focus on the communication between retinal axons and their postsynaptic partners, lamina neurons, in the first ganglion of the Drosophila visual system, as a model for the formation of topographic maps. Post-mitotic lamina precursor cells differentiate upon receiving Hedgehog signals delivered through newly arriving retinal axons and, before maturing to extend neurites, extend short processes toward retinal axons to create the lamina column. The lamina column provides the cellular basis for establishing stereotypic synapses between retinal axons and lamina neurons. In this study, we identified two cell-adhesion molecules: Hibris, which is expressed in post-mitotic lamina precursor cells; and Roughest, which is expressed on retinal axons. Both proteins belong to the nephrin/NEPH1 family. We provide evidence that recognition between post-mitotic lamina precursor cells and retinal axons is mediated by interactions between Hibris and Roughest. These findings revealed mechanisms by which axons of presynaptic neurons deliver signals to induce the development of postsynaptic partners at the target area. Postsynaptic partners then recognize the presynaptic axons to make ensembles, thus establishing a topographic map along the anterior/posterior axis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal / genetics
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal / metabolism*
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / growth & development*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism*
  • Eye Proteins / genetics
  • Eye Proteins / metabolism*
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Synapses / metabolism*


  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Eye Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • hbs protein, Drosophila
  • nephrin
  • rst protein, Drosophila
  • sim protein, Drosophila