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J Neurosci. 1984 Feb;4(2):530-8.

Mutations altering synaptic connectivity between identified neurons in Drosophila.


By studying the effects of mutations on a simple circuit of identified neurons in Drosophila, we have found genes whose proper functioning is necessary to produce normal synaptic connections between the neurons. These neurons comprise the giant fiber (GF) system; the GFs are command neurons activated by a light-off stimulus and evoke a stereotyped pattern of activity in the thoracic muscles producing an escape jump. Each GF monosynaptically drives a motor neuron innervating the tergotrochanteral muscle (jump muscle, TTM). Each GF also disynaptically drives the motor neurons innervating the dorsal longitudinal flight muscle (DLM) via the peripherally synapsing interneuron (PSI) (King, D. G., and R. J. Wyman (1980) J. Neurocytol. 9: 753-770; M. A. Tanouye and R. J. Wyman (1980) J. Neurophysiol. 44: 405-421). A search was made for mutations affecting these identified synapses. Fifty thousand mutagenized flies were screened for nonjumping behavior to the light-off stimulus. Fifty-seven nonjumping mutant lines were established from individuals selected in the screen. Members of the lines were then tested for abnormal GF motor output to the TTM and DLM. From these lines, four X-linked mutations (representing three complementation groups) were isolated which affect the circuit. The mutations differentially disrupt specific synapses within the GF system. One mutation, bendless, disrupts synaptic transmission between the GF and the TTM motor neuron. Another, gfA, disrupts the synaptic connections of the PSI, and a third mutation, passover, disrupts transmission in both pathways.

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