FISCHBACH Laboratory - Birgit Ahrens

FISCHBACH Laboratory

Birgit Ahrens

PhD Student

Targeting and synaptogenesis of L4 neurons in Drosophila

    Project Description

    L4 neurons are the only monopolar cells in the lamina of the fly that invade neighboring cartridges. In the proximal lamina layer, they make reciprocal synapses to L2 and other L4 neurons. It is our aim to understand and to genetically manipulate development and function of L4 neurons and their collaterals. Starting point of our research is the finding that these collaterals specifically express the cell recognition protein Kirre/Dumbfounded at their sites of contact with other neurons in the lamina. Kirre is a member of the irre cell recognition module (IRM) group of proteins, which we have described recently (Fischbach et al., 2008). Using the Gal4/UAS gene expression system we are specifically manipulating the genetic constitution of differentiating L4 and L2 neurons. Cell autonomous and non-autonomous effects are distinguished by the use of genetic mosaic analysis and the induced loss of the Gal4 inhibitor Gal80 by mitotic recombination (MARCM). The long-term objective is the performance of meaningfull and reproducible behavioral studies with flies possessing genetically modified L4 neurons.

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