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Genes Brain Behav. 2004 Oct;3(5):273-86.

Turning behavior in Drosophila larvae: a role for the small scribbler transcript.

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Department of Zoology, University of Toronto, Mississauga L5L 1C6, Ontario, Canada.


The Drosophila larva is extensively used for studies of neural development and function, yet the mechanisms underlying the appropriate development of its stereotypic motor behaviors remain largely unknown. We have previously shown that mutations in scribbler (sbb), a gene encoding two transcripts widely expressed in the nervous system, cause abnormally frequent episodes of turning in the third instar larva. Here we report that hypomorphic sbb mutant larvae display aberrant turning from the second instar stage onwards. We focus on the smaller of the two sbb transcripts and show that its pan-neural expression during early larval life, but not in later larval life, restores wild type turning behavior. To identify the classes of neurons in which this sbb transcript is involved, we carried out transgenic rescue experiments. Targeted expression of the small sbb transcript using the cha-GAL4 driver was sufficient to restore wild type turning behavior. In contrast, expression of this sbb transcript in motoneurons, sensory neurons or large numbers of unidentified interneurons was not sufficient. Our data suggest that the expression of the smaller sbb transcript may be needed in a subset of neurons for the maintenance of normal turning behavior in Drosophila larvae.

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