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Elife. 2019 Feb 1;8. pii: e43482. doi: 10.7554/eLife.43482. [Epub ahead of print]

Temporal identity establishes columnar neuron morphology, connectivity, and function in a Drosophila navigation circuit.

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Institute of Neuroscience, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Oregon, Eugene, United States.


The insect central complex (CX) is a conserved brain region containing 60+ neuronal subtypes, several of which contribute to navigation. It is not known how CX neuronal diversity is generated or how developmental origin of subtypes relates to function. We mapped the developmental origin of four key CX subtypes and found that neurons with similar origin have similar axon/dendrite targeting. Moreover, we found that the temporal transcription factor (TTF) Eyeless/Pax6 regulates the development of two recurrently-connected CX subtypes: Eyeless loss simultaneously produces ectopic P-EN neurons with normal axon/dendrite projections, and reduces the number of E-PG neurons. Furthermore, transient loss of Eyeless during development impairs adult flies' capacity to perform celestial navigation. We conclude that neurons with similar developmental origin have similar connectivity, that Eyeless maintains equal E-PG and P-EN neuron number, and that Eyeless is required for the development of circuits that control adult navigation.


D. melanogaster; developmental biology; neuroscience

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