Genetic Control of Development of the Mushroom Bodies,
the Associative Learning Centers in the Drosohphila Brain,
by the eyeless, twin of eyeless, and dachshund Genes
in Drosophila

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Mitsuhiko Kurusu1, Tomoko Nagao1, Uwe Walldorf2, Susanne Flister3, Walter J. Gehring3 and Katsuo Furukubo-Tokunaga 1

1Institute of Biological Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba 305-8572, Japan
2Institute of Genetics, University of Hohenheim, Garbenstrasse 30, D-70599 Stuttgart, German
3Department of Cell Biology, Biozentrum, University of Basel, Klingelbergstrasse 70, CH-4056 Basel, Switzerland

Originially published in: Kurusu, et al., 2000, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci, USA, 97:2140-2144.


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Mushroom bodies are the centers for olfactory associative learning and elementary cognitive functions in the Drosophila brain (ref. 1). By high-resolution neuroanatomy, we show that eyeless (ey; ref. 2), twin of eyeless (toy; ref. 3) and dachshund (dac; ref. 4), which are implicated in eye development, also are expressed in the developing MBs. Mutations of ey completely disrupted the MB neuropils and a null mutation of dac resulted in marked disruption and aberrant axonal projections. Genetic analyses demonstrated that, whereas ey and dac synergistically control the structural development of the MBs, the two genes are regulated independently in the course of MB development. These data argue for a distinct combinatorial code of regulatory genes for MBs as compared with eye development and suggest conserved roles of Pax6 homologs (refs. 5-7) in the genetic programs of the olfactory learning centers of complex brains.

Figure 1 - Development of the mushroom bodies

Figure 2 - Expression of Nuclear Regulatory Genes in the Embryonic MB Primordia

Figure 3 - Expression of Nuclear Regulatory Genes in the Larval MBs

Figure 4 - Structural Defects of Larval and Pupal MBs

Figure 5 - Expression of EY and DAC in Mutant Backgrounds


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