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J Neurosci. 2006 Mar 29;26(13):3367-76.

Wiring stability of the adult Drosophila olfactory circuit after lesion.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA.


Neuronal wiring plasticity in response to experience or injury has been reported in many parts of the adult nervous system. For instance, visual or somatosensory cortical maps can reorganize significantly in response to peripheral lesions, yet a certain degree of stability is essential for neuronal circuits to perform their dedicated functions. Previous studies on lesion-induced neuronal reorganization have primarily focused on systems that use continuous neural maps. Here, we assess wiring plasticity in a discrete neural map represented by the adult Drosophila olfactory circuit. Using conditional expression of toxins, we genetically ablated specific classes of neurons and examined the consequences on their synaptic partners or neighboring classes in the adult antennal lobe. We find no alteration of connection specificity between olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) and their postsynaptic targets, the projection neurons (PNs). Ablating an ORN class maintains PN dendrites within their glomerular borders, and ORN axons normally innervating an adjacent target do not expand. Likewise, ablating PN classes does not alter their partner ORN axon connectivity. Interestingly, an increase in the contralateral ORN axon terminal density occurs in response to the removal of competing ipsilateral ORNs. Therefore, plasticity in this circuit can occur but is confined within a glomerulus, thereby retaining the wiring specificity of ORNs and PNs. We conclude that, although adult olfactory neurons can undergo plastic changes in response to the loss of competition, the olfactory circuit overall is extremely stable in preserving segregated information channels in this discrete map.

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