Research ArticleNEUROSCIENCE

Pioneer interneurons instruct bilaterality in the Drosophila olfactory sensory map

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Science Advances  23 Oct 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 10, eaaw5537
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw5537


Interhemispheric synaptic connections, a prominent feature in animal nervous systems for the rapid exchange and integration of neuronal information, can appear quite suddenly during brain evolution, raising the question about the underlying developmental mechanism. Here, we show in the Drosophila olfactory system that the induction of a bilateral sensory map, an evolutionary novelty in dipteran flies, is mediated by a unique type of commissural pioneer interneurons (cPINs) via the localized activity of the cell adhesion molecule Neuroglian. Differential Neuroglian signaling in cPINs not only prepatterns the olfactory contralateral tracts but also prevents the targeting of ingrowing sensory axons to their ipsilateral synaptic partners. These results identified a sensitive cellular interaction to switch the sequential assembly of diverse neuron types from a unilateral to a bilateral brain circuit organization.

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