Genetic dissection of trophic interactions in the larval optic neuropil of Drosophila melanogaster
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The larval visual system of Drosophila melanogaster consists of two bilateral clusters of 12 photoreceptors, which express Rhodopsin 5 and 6 (Rh5 and Rh6) in a non-overlapping manner. These neurons send their axons in a fascicle, the larval optic nerve (LON), which terminates in the larval optic neuropil. The LON is required for the development of a serotonergic arborization originating in the central brain and for the development of the dendritic tree of the circadian pacemakers, the small ventral lateral neurons (LNv) [Malpel, S., Klarsfeld, A., Rouyer, F., 2002. Larval optic nerve and adult extra-retinal photoreceptors sequentially associate with clock neurons during Drosophila brain development. Development 129, 1443-1453; Mukhopadhyay, M., Campos, A.R., 1995. The larval optic nerve is required for the development of an identified serotonergic arborization in Drosophila melanogaster. Dev. Biol., 169, 629-643]. Here, we show that both Rh5- and Rh6-expressing fibers overlap equally with the 5-HT arborization and that it, in turn, also contacts the dendritic tree of the LNv. The experiments described here aimed at determining whether Rh5- or Rh6-expressing fibers, as well as the LNv, influence the development of this serotonergic arborization. We conclude that Rh6-expressing fibers play a unique role in providing a signal required for the outgrowth and branching of the serotonergic arborization. Moreover, the innervation of the larval optic neuropil by the 5-HT arborization depends on intact Rac function. A possible role for these serotonergic processes in modulating the larval circadian rhythmicity and photoreceptor function is discussed.
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