Genetic analysis of the Drosophila ellipsoid body neuropil: Organization and development of the central complex

Susan C.P. Renn, J. Douglas Armstrong, Mingyao Yang, Zongsheng Wang, Xin An, Kim Kaiser, Paul H. Taghert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

160 Scopus citations


The central complex is an important center for higher-order brain function in insects. It is an intricate neuropil composed of four substructures. Each substructure contains repeated neuronal elements which are connected by processes such that topography is maintained. Although the neuronal architecture has been described in several insects and the behavioral role investigated in various experiments, the exact function of this neuropil has proven elusive. To describe the architecture of the central complex, we study 15 enhancer-trap lines that label various ellipsoid body neuron types. We find evidence for restriction of gene expression that is correlated with specific neuronal types: such correlations suggest functional classifications as well. We show that some enhancer-trap patterns reveal a single ellipsoid body neuron type, while others label multiple types. We describe the development of the ellipsoid body neuropil in wild-type animals and propose developmental mechanisms based on animals displaying structural mutations of this neuropil. The experiments performed here demonstrate the degree of resolution possible from the analysis of enhancer-trap lines and form a useful library of tools for future structure/function studies of the ellipsoid body.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-207
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Neurobiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999


  • Central complex
  • Ellipsoid body
  • Enhancer-trap
  • Neuropil
  • Structural mutant


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