How are functional neural circuits formed during development? Despite recent advances in our understanding of the development of individual neurons, little is known about how complex circuits are assembled to generate specific behaviors. Here, we describe the ways in which Drosophila motor circuits serve as an excellent model system to tackle this problem. We first summarize what has been learned during the past decades on the connectivity and development of component neurons, in particular motor neurons and sensory feedback neurons. We then review recent progress in our understanding of the development of the circuits as well as studies that apply optogenetics and other innovative techniques to dissect the circuit diagram. New approaches using Drosophila as a model system are now making it possible to search for developmental rules that regulate the construction of neural circuits.
© 2012 The Authors Development, Growth & Differentiation © 2012 Japanese Society of Developmental Biologists.