In the metazoan central nervous system (CNS), serotonergic neurons send projections throughout the synaptic neuropil. Little is known about the rules that govern these widespread neuromodulatory branching patterns. In this study, we utilize the Drosophila as a model to examine serotonergic branching. Using single cell GFP labeling we show that within each segment of the Drosophila ventral nerve cord (VNC), each of two serotonergic neurons tiles distinct innervation patterns in the contralateral neuropil. In addition, branches extend only a short distance from the target segment. Through ablation-mediated isolation of serotonergic cells, we demonstrate that the distinct areas of innervation are not maintained through competition between neighboring like-serotonergic neurites. Furthermore, the basic branching pattern of serotonergic neurons within the neuropil remains unchanged despite alterations of initial axonal trajectories. © 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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