Survival of photoreceptor neurons in the compound eye of Drosophila depends on connections with the optic ganglia.
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The importance of retinal innervation for the normal development of the optic ganglia in Drosophila is well documented. However, little is known about retrograde effects of the optic lobe on the adult photoreceptor cells (R-cells). We addressed this question by examining the survival of R-cells in mutant flies where R-cells do not connect to the brain. Although imaginal R-cells develop normally in the absence of connections to the optic lobes, we find that their continued survival requires these connections. Genetic mosaic studies with the disconnected (disco) mutation demonstrate that survival of R-cells does not depend on the genotype of the eye, but is correlated with the presence of connections to the optic ganglia. These results suggest the existence of retrograde interactions in the Drosophila visual system reminiscent of trophic interactions found in vertebrates.
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