A retinal axon fascicle uses spitz, an EGF receptor ligand, to construct a synaptic cartridge in the brain of Drosophila

Cell. 1998 Nov 25;95(5):693-703. doi: 10.1016/s0092-8674(00)81639-6.


Photoreceptor axons arriving in the Drosophila brain organize their postsynaptic target field into a precise array of five neuron "cartridge" ensembles. Here we show that Hedgehog, an initial inductive signal transported along retinal axons from the developing eye, induces postsynaptic precursor cells to express the Drosophila homolog of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). The EGFR ligand Spitz, a signal for ommatidial assembly in the compound eye, is transported to retinal axon termini in the brain where it acts as a local cue for the recruitment of five cells into a cartridge ensemble. Hedgehog and Spitz thus bring about the concerted assembly of ommatidial and synaptic cartridge units, imposing the "neurocrystalline" order of the compound eye on the postsynaptic target field.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / metabolism*
  • Brain / growth & development
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Drosophila
  • Drosophila Proteins*
  • Epidermal Growth Factor*
  • ErbB Receptors / metabolism*
  • Eye / growth & development
  • Ligands
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Retina / metabolism*


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Ligands
  • Membrane Proteins
  • spi protein, Drosophila
  • Epidermal Growth Factor
  • ErbB Receptors