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BMC Neurosci. 2003 Jun 30;4:14.

Dendritic development of Drosophila high order visual system neurons is independent of sensory experience.

Author information

1
Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-5020, USA. escott1@itsa.ucsf.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The complex and characteristic structures of dendrites are a crucial part of the neuronal architecture that underlies brain function, and as such, their development has been a focal point of recent research. It is generally believed that dendritic development is controlled by a combination of endogenous genetic mechanisms and activity-dependent mechanisms. Therefore, it is of interest to test the relative contributions of these two types of mechanisms towards the construction of specific dendritic trees. In this study, we make use of the highly complex Vertical System (VS) of motion sensing neurons in the lobula plate of the Drosophila visual system to gauge the importance of visual input and synaptic activity to dendritic development.

RESULTS:

We find that the dendrites of VS1 neurons are unchanged in dark-reared flies as compared to control flies raised on a 12 hour light, 12 hour dark cycle. The dendrites of these flies show no differences from control in dendrite complexity, spine number, spine density, or axon complexity. Flies with genetically ablated eyes show a slight but significant reduction in the complexity and overall length of VS1 dendrites, although this effect may be due to a reduction in the overall size of the dendritic field in these flies.

CONCLUSIONS:

Overall, our results indicate no role for visual experience in the development of VS dendrites, while spontaneous activity from photoreceptors may play at most a subtle role in the formation of fully complex dendrites in these high-order visual processing neurons.

PMID:
12834538
PMCID:
PMC166153
DOI:
10.1186/1471-2202-4-14
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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