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Developmentally arrested precursors of pontine neurons establish an embryonic blueprint of the Drosophila central complex

By Ingrid V Andrade, Nadia Riebli, Bao-Chau M Nguyen, Jaison J Omoto, Richard D Fetter, Albert Cardona, Volker Hartenstein

Posted 11 Apr 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/291831 (published DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.12.012)

Serial electron microscopic analysis shows that the Drosophila brain at hatching possesses a large fraction of developmentally arrested neurons with a small soma, heterochromatin-rich nucleus, and unbranched axon lacking synapses. We digitally reconstructed all 812 small undifferentiated (SU) neurons and assigned them to the known brain lineages. 54 SU neurons belonging to the DM1-4 lineages, which generate all columnar neurons of the central complex, form an embryonic nucleus of the fan-shaped body (FB). These FB pioneers develop into a specific class of bi-columnar elements, the pontine neurons. Even though later born, unicolumnar DM1-4 neurons fasciculate with the FB pioneers, selective ablation of these cells did not result in gross abnormalities of the trajectories of unicolumnar neurons, indicating that axonal pathfinding of the two systems is controlled independently. Our comprehensive spatial and developmental analysis of the SU neuron adds to our understanding of the establishment of neuronal circuitry.

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