Axonal branching is a fundamental requirement for sending electrical signals to multiple targets. However, despite the importance of axonal branching in neural development and function, the molecular mechanisms that control branch formation are poorly understood. Previous studies have hardly addressed the intracellular signaling cascade of axonal bifurcation characterized by growth cone splitting. Recently we reported that DISCO interacting protein 2 (DIP2) regulates bifurcation of mushroom body axons in Drosophila melanogaster. DIP2 mutant displays ectopic bifurcations in α/β neurons. Taking advantage of this phenomenon, we tried to identify genes involved in branching formation by comparing the transcriptome of wild type with that of DIP2 RNAi flies. After the microarray analysis, Glaikit (Gkt), a member of the phospholipase D superfamily, was identified as a downstream target of DIP2 by RNAi against gkt and qRT-PCR experiment. Single cell MARCM analysis of gkt mutant phenocopied the ectopic axonal branches observed in DIP2 mutant. Furthermore, a genetic analysis between gkt and DIP2 revealed that gkt potentially acts in parallel with DIP2. In conclusion, we identified a novel gene underlying the axonal bifurcation process.
Keywords: Axonal bifurcation; DIP2; Drosophila; Glaikit; Mushroom body.
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