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Neuron. 2004 Apr 8;42(1):63-75.

Diverse functions of N-cadherin in dendritic and axonal terminal arborization of olfactory projection neurons.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


The cadherin superfamily of cell adhesion molecules have been proposed to play important roles in determining synaptic specificity in developing nervous systems. We examine the function of N-cadherin in Drosophila second order olfactory projection neurons (PNs), each of which must selectively target their dendrites to one of approximately 50 glomeruli. Our results do not support an instructive role for N-cadherin in selecting dendritic targets; rather, N-cadherin is essential for PNs to restrict their dendrites to single glomeruli. Mosaic analyses suggest that N-cadherin mediates dendro-dendritic interactions between PNs and thus contributes to refinement of PN dendrites to single glomeruli. N-cadherin is also essential for the development of PN axon terminal arbors in two distinct central targets: regulating branch stability in the lateral horn and restricting high-order branching in the mushroom body. Although the N-cadherin locus potentially encodes eight alternatively spliced isoforms, transgenic expression of one isoform is sufficient to rescue all phenotypes.

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