In vivo dynamics of axon pathfinding in the Drosophilia CNS: a time-lapse study of an identified motorneuron

J Neurobiol. 1998 Dec;37(4):607-21.


We developed a system for time-lapse observation of identified neurons in the central nervous system (CNS) of the Drosophila embryo. Using this system, we characterize the dynamics of filopodia and axon growth of the motorneuron RP2 as it navigates anteriorly through the CNS and then laterally along the intersegmental nerve (ISN) into the periphery. We find that both axonal extension and turning occur primarily through the process of filopodial dilation. In addition, we used the GAL4-UAS system to express the fusion protein Tau-GFP in a subset of neurons, allowing us to correlate RP2's patterns of growth with a subset of axons in its environment. In particular, we show that RP2's sharp lateral turn is coincident with the nascent ISN.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Axons / physiology*
  • Cell Size
  • Central Nervous System / cytology
  • Central Nervous System / embryology
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism
  • Drosophila melanogaster / embryology*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Growth Cones / physiology*
  • Motor Neurons / cytology
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Muscles / innervation
  • Neural Pathways
  • Neurites / physiology
  • Pseudopodia / physiology
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Time Factors
  • tau Proteins / genetics
  • tau Proteins / metabolism


  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • tau Proteins