Neural circuit assembly requires selection of specific cell fates, axonal trajectories, and synaptic targets. By analyzing the function of a secreted semaphorin, Sema-2b, in Drosophila olfactory receptor neuron (ORN) development, we identified multiple molecular and cellular mechanisms that link these events. Notch signaling limits Sema-2b expression to ventromedial ORN classes, within which Sema-2b cell-autonomously sensitizes ORN axons to external semaphorins. Central-brain-derived Sema-2a and Sema-2b attract Sema-2b-expressing axons to the ventromedial trajectory. In addition, Sema-2b/PlexB-mediated axon-axon interactions consolidate this trajectory choice and promote ventromedial axon-bundle formation. Selecting the correct developmental trajectory is ultimately essential for proper target choice. These findings demonstrate that Sema-2b couples ORN axon guidance to postsynaptic target neuron dendrite patterning well before the final target selection phase, and exemplify how a single guidance molecule can drive consecutive stages of neural circuit assembly with the help of sophisticated spatial and temporal regulation.
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