Information processing relies on precise patterns of synapses between neurons. The cellular recognition mechanisms regulating this specificity are poorly understood. In the medulla of the Drosophila visual system, different neurons form synaptic connections in different layers. Here, we sought to identify candidate cell recognition molecules underlying this specificity. Using RNA sequencing (RNA-seq), we show that neurons with different synaptic specificities express unique combinations of mRNAs encoding hundreds of cell surface and secreted proteins. Using RNA-seq and protein tagging, we demonstrate that 21 paralogs of the Dpr family, a subclass of immunoglobulin (Ig)-domain containing proteins, are expressed in unique combinations in homologous neurons with different layer-specific synaptic connections. Dpr interacting proteins (DIPs), comprising nine paralogs of another subclass of Ig-containing proteins, are expressed in a complementary layer-specific fashion in a subset of synaptic partners. We propose that pairs of Dpr/DIP paralogs contribute to layer-specific patterns of synaptic connectivity.
Keywords: DIP; Dpr; Drosophila; synaptic specificity; visual system.
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