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Neuron. 2014 Sep 17;83(6):1376-88. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.08.002. Epub 2014 Aug 28.

Cell-specific alternative splicing of Drosophila Dscam2 is crucial for proper neuronal wiring.

Author information

1
School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia.
2
School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia. Electronic address: s.millard@uq.edu.au.

Abstract

How a finite number of genes specify a seemingly infinite number of neuronal connections is a central question in neurobiology. Alternative splicing has been proposed to increase proteome diversity in the brain. Here we show that cell-specific alternative splicing of a cell-surface protein is crucial for neuronal wiring. Down syndrome cell adhesion molecule 2 (Dscam2) is a conserved homophilic binding protein that can induce repulsion between opposing neurons. In the fly visual system, L1 and L2 neurons both require Dscam2 repulsion, but paradoxically, they also physically contact each other. We found that the cell-specific expression of two biochemically distinct alternative isoforms of Dscam2 prevents these cells from repelling each other. Phenotypes were observed in the axon terminals of L1 and L2 when they expressed the incorrect isoform, demonstrating a requirement for distinct isoforms. We conclude that cell-specific alternative splicing is a mechanism for achieving proper connectivity between neurons.

PMID:
25175881
DOI:
10.1016/j.neuron.2014.08.002
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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