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Commissure formation in the embryonic insect brain

Commissure formation in the embryonic insect brain

Arthropod Structure and Development 32(1): 61-77

ISSN/ISBN: 1467-8039

PMID: 18088996

DOI: 10.1016/s1467-8039(03)00037-9

The primary axon scaffold of the insect brain is established early in embryogenesis and comprises a preoral protocerebral commissure, a postoral tritocerebral commissure and longitudinal fiber pathways linking the two. In both grasshopper and fly its form is approximately orthogonal and is centered around the stomodeum. We show how pioneer fibers from the protocerebrum and tritocerebrum cross the brain midline directly via their respective commissures. The deutocerebrum, however, lacks its own commissure and we describe how deutocerebral pioneers circumnavigate the gut to cross the midline either via the protocerebral commissure or the tritocerebral commissure. In contrast to all other commissures of the central nervous system, the protocerebral commissure persists, albeit in reduced form, in the commissureless mutation in the fly. Besides the com gene, a further, as yet unidentified, mechanism must regulate this commissure. The formation of the tritocerebral commissure involves labial, a member of the Hox gene group. Genetic rescue experiments in labial mutants reveal that the formation of this commissure can be rescued by all other Hox genes except Abdominal-B. However, only in the labial and Deformed null mutants are the commissures associated with the respective expression domains (tritocerebral, mandibular, respectively) absent. This suggests that the molecular mechanisms regulating postoral brain commissure formation are distinct from those in the neuromeres of the ventral nerve cord.

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