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Development. 2000 Dec;127(23):5203-12.

Synaptogenesis in the giant-fibre system of Drosophila: interaction of the giant fibre and its major motorneuronal target.

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Sussex Centre for Neuroscience, School of Biological Sciences, University of Sussex, Brighton BN1 9QG, UK.


The tergotrochanteral (jump) motorneuron is a major synaptic target of the Giant Fibre in Drosophila. These two neurons are major components of the fly's Giant-Fibre escape system. Our previous work has described the development of the Giant Fibre in early metamorphosis and the involvement of the shaking-B locus in the formation of its electrical synapses. In the present study, we have investigated the development of the tergotrochanteral motorneuron and its electrical synapses by transforming Drosophila with a Gal4 fusion construct containing sequences largely upstream of, but including, the shaking-B(lethal) promoter. This construct drives reporter gene expression in the tergotrochanteral motorneuron and some other neurons. Expression of green fluorescent protein in the motorneuron allows visualization of its cell body and its subsequent intracellular staining with Lucifer Yellow. These preparations provide high-resolution data on motorneuron morphogenesis during the first half of pupal development. Dye-coupling reveals onset of gap-junction formation between the tergotrochanteral motorneuron and other neurons of the Giant-Fibre System. The medial dendrite of the tergotrochanteral motorneuron becomes dye-coupled to the peripheral synapsing interneurons between 28 and 32 hours after puparium formation. Dye-coupling between tergotrochanteral motorneuron and Giant Fibre is first seen at 42 hours after puparium formation. All dye coupling is abolished in a shaking-B(neural) mutant. To investigate any interactions between the Giant Fibre and the tergotroachanteral motorneuron, we arrested the growth of the motorneuron's medial neurite by targeted expression of a constitutively active form of Dcdc42. This results in the Giant Fibre remaining stranded at the midline, unable to make its characteristic bend. We conclude that Giant Fibre morphogenesis normally relies on fasciculation with its major motorneuronal target.

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