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J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2015 Sep;201(9):911-20. doi: 10.1007/s00359-015-1022-7. Epub 2015 Jun 20.

Fine-scale topography in sensory systems: insights from Drosophila and vertebrates.

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Life Sciences Institute and Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 48109, USA.


To encode the positions of sensory stimuli, sensory circuits form topographic maps in the central nervous system through specific point-to-point connections between pre- and postsynaptic neurons. In vertebrate visual systems, the establishment of topographic maps involves the formation of a coarse topography followed by that of fine-scale topography that distinguishes the axon terminals of neighboring neurons. It is known that intrinsic differences in the form of broad gradients of guidance molecules instruct coarse topography while neuronal activity is required for fine-scale topography. On the other hand, studies in the Drosophila visual system have shown that intrinsic differences in cell adhesion among the axon terminals of neighboring neurons instruct the fine-scale topography. Recent studies on activity-dependent topography in the Drosophila somatosensory system have revealed a role of neuronal activity in creating molecular differences among sensory neurons for establishing fine-scale topography, implicating a conserved principle. Here we review the findings in both Drosophila and vertebrates and propose an integrated model for fine-scale topography.

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