Neural maps are emergent, highly ordered structures that are essential for organizing and presenting synaptic information. Within the embryonic nervous system of Drosophila motoneuron dendrites are organized topographically as a myotopic map that reflects their pattern of innervation in the muscle field. Here we reveal that this fundamental organizational principle exists in adult Drosophila, where the dendrites of leg motoneurons also generate a myotopic map. A single postembryonic neuroblast sequentially generates different leg motoneuron subtypes, starting with those innervating proximal targets and medial neuropil regions and producing progeny that innervate distal muscle targets and lateral neuropil later in the lineage. Thus the cellular distinctions in peripheral targets and central dendritic domains, which make up the myotopic map, are linked to the birth-order of these motoneurons. Our developmental analysis of dendrite growth reveals that this myotopic map is generated by targeting. We demonstrate that the medio-lateral positioning of motoneuron dendrites in the leg neuropil is controlled by the midline signalling systems Slit-Robo and Netrin-Fra. These results reveal that dendritic targeting plays a major role in the formation of myotopic maps and suggests that the coordinate spatial control of both pre- and postsynaptic elements by global neuropilar signals may be an important mechanism for establishing the specificity of synaptic connections.
Brierley, D. J., Blanc, E., Reddy, O. V., VijayRaghavan, K., & Williams, D. W. (2009). Dendritic targeting in the leg neuropil of Drosophila: The role of midline signalling molecules in generating a myotopic map. PLoS Biology, 7(9). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1000199