, Volume 196, Issue 2, pp 69-77

Morphological differentiation of the embryonic peripheral neurons in Drosophila

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The stereotyped segmental and dorso-ventral organization of the peripheral nervous system (PNS) of Drosophila embryos allows the identification of all the neurons in the body wall. Distinct classes of neurons are distinguishable according to their location, the targets they innervate, the particular shape of their dendrites and their cell size. Those neurons innervating external sensory structures (es) and chordotonal organs (ch) have single dendrites and have been previously described (Ghysen et al. 1986; Dambly-Chaudiere and Ghysen 1986; Campos-Ortega and Hartenstein 1985). We describe here the identity and morphological features of three other classes of neurons in the body segments which have multiple dendrites (md neurons): 1) neurons that give rise to elaborate dendritic arborisations (da neurons); 2) neurons that have bipolar dendrites (bd neurons); 3) neurons that arborize around particular tracheal branches (td neurons). The thoracic hemisegment (T2 and T3) contains 13 da, one bd, one td, 21 es and four ch neurons; the abdominal hemisegment (A1 to A7) contains 14 da, three bd, three td, 15 es and eight ch neurons. The arrangement of the segmented peripheral neurons is highly invariant and provides a favorable assay system for the genetic analysis of neurodevelopment.