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Neuron. 1996 Oct;17(4):641-54.

Genetic dissection of structural and functional components of synaptic plasticity. I. Fasciclin II controls synaptic stabilization and growth.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley 94720, USA.


The glutamatergic neuromuscular synapse in Drosophila forms and differentiates into distinct boutons in the embryo and grows by sprouting new boutons throughout larval life. We demonstrate that two axons form approximately 18 boutons on muscles 7 and 6 by hatching and grow to approximately 180 boutons by third instar. We further show that, after synapse formation, the homophilic cell adhesion molecule Fasciclin II (Fas II) is localized both pre- and postsynaptically where it controls synapse stabilization. In FasII null mutants, synapse formation is normal, but boutons then retract during larval development. Synapse elimination and resulting lethality are rescued by transgenes that drive Fas II expression both pre- and postsynaptically; driving Fas II expression on either side alone is insufficient. Fas II can also control synaptic growth; various FasII alleles lead to either an increase or decrease in sprouting, depending upon the level of Fas II.

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