Metamorphosis of tangential visual system neurons in Drosophila

Paul H. Taghert, Marie E. Roberts, Susan C.P. Renn, Pamela S. Jacobs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


To learn about construction of the adult nervous system, we studied the differentiation of imaginal neurons in the Drosophila visual system. OL2-A and OL3 are tangential neurons that display dFMRFa neuropeptide gene expression in adults but not in larvae. The two large OL2-A neurons are generated near the end of the embryonic period and already show morphological differentiation at the start of metamorphosis. The numerous small OL3 neurons are generated postembryonically and first detected later in metamorphosis. The onset of dFMRFa transcription coincides with that of neuropeptide accumulation in OL2-A neurons, but it precedes peptide accumulation in the OL3 neurons by days. Altering each of the five conserved sequences within the minimal 256-bp OL dFMRFa enhancer affected in vivo OL transcriptional activity in two cases: alteration of a TAAT element greatly diminished and alteration of a 9-bp tandem repeat completely abolished OL2-A/OL3 reporter activity. A 46-bp concatamer containing the TAAT element, tested separately, was not active in OL neurons. We propose a model of neuronal differentiation at metamorphosis that features developmental differences between classes of imaginal neurons. (C) 2000 Academic Press.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)471-485
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 15 2000


  • Drosophila
  • FMRFamide
  • Metamorphosis
  • Neuropeptide
  • Tangential neuron


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