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Dev Biol. 2011 Oct 1;358(1):122-36. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2011.07.018. Epub 2011 Jul 23.

TALE-class homeodomain transcription factors, homothorax and extradenticle, control dendritic and axonal targeting of olfactory projection neurons in the Drosophila brain.

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  • 1Graduate School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba 305-8572, Japan.


Precise neuronal connectivity in the nervous system depends on specific axonal and dendritic targeting of individual neurons. In the Drosophila brain, olfactory projection neurons convey odor information from the antennal lobe to higher order brain centers such as the mushroom body and the lateral horn. Here, we show that Homothorax (Hth), a TALE-class homeodomain transcription factor, is expressed in many of the antennal lobe neurons including projection neurons and local interneurons. In addition, HTH is expressed in the progenitors of the olfactory projection neurons, and the activity of hth is required for the generation of the lateral but not for the anterodorsal and ventral lineages. MARCM analyses show that the hth is essential for correct dendritic targeting of projection neurons in the antennal lobe. Moreover, the activity of hth is required for axonal fasciculation, correct routing and terminal branching of the projection neurons. We also show that another TALE-class homeodomain protein, Extradenticle (Exd), is required for the dendritic and axonal development of projection neurons. Mutation of exd causes projection neuron defects that are reminiscent of the phenotypes caused by the loss of the hth activity. Double immunostaining experiments show that Hth and Exd are coexpressed in olfactory projection neurons and their progenitors, and that the expressions of Hth and Exd require the activity of each other gene. These results thus demonstrate the functional importance of the TALE-class homeodomain proteins in cell-type specification and precise wiring of the Drosophila olfactory network.

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