Elucidating how appropriate neurite patterns are generated in neurons of the olfactory system is crucial for comprehending the construction of the olfactory map. In the Drosophila olfactory system, projection neurons (PNs), primarily derived from four neural stem cells (called neuroblasts), populate their cell bodies surrounding to and distribute their dendrites in distinct but overlapping patterns within the primary olfactory center of the brain, the antennal lobe (AL). However, it remains unclear whether the same molecular mechanisms are employed to generate the appropriate dendritic patterns in discrete AL glomeruli among PNs produced from different neuroblasts. Here, by examining a previously explored transmembrane protein Semaphorin-1a (Sema-1a) which was proposed to globally control initial PN dendritic targeting along the dorsolateral-to-ventromedial axis of the AL, we discover a new role for Sema-1a in preventing dendrites of both uni-glomerular and poly-glomerular PNs from aberrant invasion into select AL regions and, intriguingly, this Sema-1a-deficient dendritic mis-targeting phenotype seems to associate with the origins of PNs from which they are derived. Further, ectopic expression of Sema-1a resulted in PN dendritic mis-projection from a select AL region into adjacent glomeruli, strengthening the idea that Sema-1a plays an essential role in preventing abnormal dendritic accumulation in select AL regions. Taken together, these results demonstrate that Sema-1a repulsion keeps dendrites of different types of PNs away from each other, enabling the same types of PN dendrites to be sorted into destined AL glomeruli and permitting for functional assembly of olfactory circuitry.
Shen, H. C., Chu, S. Y., Hsu, T. C., Wang, C. H., Lin, I. Y., & Yu, H. H. (2017). Semaphorin-1a prevents Drosophila olfactory projection neuron dendrites from mis-targeting into select antennal lobe regions. PLoS Genetics, 13(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1006751