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J Neurosci. 2004 Feb 11;24(6):1439-45.

Neuronal activity and adenylyl cyclase in environment-dependent plasticity of axonal outgrowth in Drosophila.

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Department Biological Sciences, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242, USA.


The development of the nervous system is influenced by environmental factors. Among all environmental factors, temperature belongs to a unique category. Besides activating some specific sensory pathways, it exerts nonspecific, pervasive effects directly on the entire nervous system, especially in exothermic species. This study uses mutants to genetically discover how temperature affects nerve terminal arborization at larval neuromuscular junctions of Drosophila. It is known that hyperexcitability in K(+) channel mutants leads to enhanced ramification of larval nerve terminals. Elevated cAMP levels in dunce mutants with reduced phosphodiesterase activity also cause enhanced arborization. These genetic alterations are thought to perturb mechanisms relevant to activity-dependent neural plasticity, in which neuronal activity activates the cAMP pathway, and consequently affect nerve terminal arborization by regulating expression of adhesion molecules. Here we demonstrate the robust influence of rearing temperature on motor nerve terminal arborization. Analysis of ion channel and cAMP pathway mutants indicates that this temperature-dependent plasticity is mediated via neuronal activity changes linked to mechanisms controlled by the rutabaga-encoded adenylyl cyclase.

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