[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Roundabout (Robo) receptors have been intensively studied for their role in regulating axon guidance in the embryonic nervous system, whereas a role in dendritic guidance has not been explored. In the adult giant fiber system of Drosophila, we have revealed that ectopic Robo expression can regulate the growth and guidance of specific motor neuron dendrites, whereas Robo2 and Robo3 have no effect. We also show that the effect of Robo on dendritic guidance can be suppressed by Commissureless coexpression. Although we confirmed a role for all three Robo receptors in giant fiber axon guidance, the strong axon guidance alterations caused by overexpression of Robo2 or Robo3 have no effect on synaptic connectivity. In contrast, Robo overexpression in the giant fiber seems to directly interfere with synaptic function. We conclude that axon guidance, dendritic guidance, and synaptogenesis are separable processes and that the different Robo family members affect them distinctly.
Journal of Neuroscience 05/2002; 22(8):3117-29. · 6.91 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent studies have shown the small GTPases, Rac1, Rho, and CDC42, to have a role in axon guidance. To assess their participation in synapse assembly and function we have expressed various forms of Drac1 in the giant fiber system of Drosophila. Overexpression of wild-type Drac1 in the giant fiber (GF) lead to a disruption in axonal morphology; axons often terminate prematurely in a large swelling in the target area but lack the normal lateral bend where the synapse with the jump motor neuron would normally be found. Electrophysiological assays revealed longer latencies and lowering following frequencies indicating defects in the synapse between the GF and the tergotrochanteral motor neuron (TTMn). Thickened abnormal GF dendrites were also observed in the brain. Overexpression of the dominant-negative form of Drac1, (N17), resulted in axons that produced extra branches in the second thoracic neuromere (T2); however, the synaptic connection to the TTMn was present and functioned normally. Conversely, expression of the constitutively active form, Drac1(V12), resulted in a complete lack of neurite outgrowth and this was also seen with overexpression of Dcdc42(V12). In the absence of a GF, these flies showed no response in the jump (TTM) or flight (DLM) muscles upon brain stimulation. Taken together these results show that the balance of actin polymerization and depolymerization determines local process outgrowth and thereby synapse structure and function.
Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience 01/2001; 16(6):754-65. · 3.84 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Glued(1) (Gl(1)) mutants produce a truncated protein that acts as a poison subunit and disables the cytoplasmic retrograde motor dynein. Heterozygous mutants have axonal defects in the adult eye and the nervous system. Here we show that selective expression of the poison subunit in neurons of the giant fiber (GF) system disrupts synaptogenesis between the GF and one of its targets, the tergotrochanteral motorneuron (TTMn). Growth and pathfinding by the GF axon and the TTMn dendrite are normal, but the terminal of the GF axon fails to develop normally and becomes swollen with large vesicles. This is a presynaptic defect because expression of truncated Glued restricted to the GF results in the same defect. When tested electrophysiologically, the flies with abnormal axons show a weakened or absent GF-TTMn connection. In Glued(1) heterozygotes, GF-TTMn synapse formation appears morphologically normal, but adult flies show abnormal responses to repetitive stimuli. This physiological effect is also observed when tetanus toxin is expressed in the GFs. Because the GF-TTMn is thought to be a mixed electrochemical synapse, the results show that Glued has a role in assembling both the chemical and electrical components. We speculate that disrupting transport of a retrograde signal disrupts synapse formation and maturation.
Journal of Neuroscience 12/1999; 19(21):9374-84. · 6.91 Impact Factor