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Axon targeting of Drosophila medulla projection neurons requires diffusible Netrin and is coordinated with neuroblast temporal patterning


How axon guidance pathways are utilized in coordination with temporal and spatial patterning of neural progenitors to regulate neuropil assembly is not well understood. We study this question in the Drosophila medulla using the transmedullary (Tm) projection neurons that target lobula through the inner optic chiasm (IOC). We demonstrate that the Netrin pathway plays multiple roles in guidance of Tm axons and that temporal patterning of medulla neuroblasts determines pioneer versus follower Tm neurons during this process. Loss of Frazzled (Fra) in early-born pioneer Tm neurons leads to IOC defects, while loss of Fra from follower neurons does not affect the IOC. In the follower projection neurons, Fra is required in other targeting steps including lobula branch extension and layer-specific targeting. Furthermore, different from other identified scenarios of Netrin/Fra involved axon guidance in Drosophila, we demonstrate that diffusible Netrin is required for the correct axon targeting and optic lobe organization.

DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2023.112144