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Development. 2003 Apr;130(7):1307-16.

Dock and Pak regulate olfactory axon pathfinding in Drosophila.

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  • 1Department of Cell and Structural Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 601 South Goodwin Avenue, C626, Urbana, IL 61801, USA.


The convergence of olfactory axons expressing particular odorant receptor (Or) genes on spatially invariant glomeruli in the brain is one of the most dramatic examples of precise axon targeting in developmental neurobiology. The cellular and molecular mechanisms by which olfactory axons pathfind to their targets are poorly understood. We report here that the SH2/SH3 adapter Dock and the serine/threonine kinase Pak are necessary for the precise guidance of olfactory axons. Using antibody localization, mosaic analyses and cell-type specific rescue, we observed that Dock and Pak are expressed in olfactory axons and function autonomously in olfactory neurons to regulate the precise wiring of the olfactory map. Detailed analyses of the mutant phenotypes in whole mutants and in small multicellular clones indicate that Dock and Pak do not control olfactory neuron (ON) differentiation, but specifically regulate multiple aspects of axon trajectories to guide them to their cognate glomeruli. Structure/function studies show that Dock and Pak form a signaling pathway that mediates the response of olfactory axons to guidance cues in the developing antennal lobe (AL). Our findings therefore identify a central signaling module that is used by ONs to project to their cognate glomeruli.

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