Neural activity affects distribution of glutamate receptors during neuromuscular junction formation in Drosophila embryos

Dev Biol. 1997 Apr 1;184(1):48-60. doi: 10.1006/dbio.1996.8480.


Changes in the distribution and density of transmitter receptors in the postsynaptic cell are required steps for functional synapse formation. We raised antibodies against Drosophila glutamate receptors (DGluR-II) and visualized the distribution of receptors during neuromuscular junction formation in embryos. In wild-type embryos, embryonic development is complete within 22 hr after egg lying (AEL) and neuromuscular junction (NMJ) formation begins at 13 hr AEL. At the time of initial synapse formation, DGluR-IIs appeared as clusters closely associated with some muscle nuclei. Subsequently, these nonjunctional clusters dispersed while DGluR-IIs accumulated at the junctional region. In a paralytic temperature-sensitive mutant, para(ts1), neural activity decreases drastically at restrictive temperatures. When neural activity was blocked throughout synaptogenesis by rearing embryos at a restrictive temperature prior to the beginning of synaptogenesis, 12 hr AEL, the dispersal of extrajunctional clusters was significantly suppressed and no accumulation of receptors at the junction was observed at 22 hr AEL. However, when neural activity was blocked later, by rearing embryos at a restrictive temperature from 13 hr AEL, DGluR-IIs did not accumulate at the NMJ, although extrajunctional clusters dispersed normally. These findings suggest that the neural activity differentially regulates dissipation of receptor clusters in the nonjunctional region and accumulation of receptors at the junctional region.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Antibody Specificity
  • Drosophila melanogaster / embryology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / physiology
  • Mesoderm / metabolism
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Nervous System Physiological Phenomena
  • Neuromuscular Junction / embryology*
  • Neuromuscular Junction / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Glutamate / metabolism*
  • Temperature


  • Receptors, Glutamate