Cellular bases of olfactory circuit assembly revealed by systematic time-lapse imaging

Tongchao Li, Tian Ming Fu, Kenneth Kin Lam Wong, Hongjie Li, Qijing Xie, David J. Luginbuhl, Mark J. Wagner, Eric Betzig, Liqun Luo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Neural circuit assembly features simultaneous targeting of numerous neuronal processes from constituent neuron types, yet the dynamics is poorly understood. Here, we use the Drosophila olfactory circuit to investigate dynamic cellular processes by which olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) target axons precisely to specific glomeruli in the ipsi- and contralateral antennal lobes. Time-lapse imaging of individual axons from 30 ORN types revealed a rich diversity in extension speed, innervation timing, and ipsilateral branch locations and identified that ipsilateral targeting occurs via stabilization of transient interstitial branches. Fast imaging using adaptive optics-corrected lattice light-sheet microscopy showed that upon approaching target, many ORN types exhibiting “exploring branches” consisted of parallel microtubule-based terminal branches emanating from an F-actin-rich hub. Antennal nerve ablations uncovered essential roles for bilateral axons in contralateral target selection and for ORN axons to facilitate dendritic refinement of postsynaptic partner neurons. Altogether, these observations provide cellular bases for wiring specificity establishment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5107-5121.e14
Issue number20
StatePublished - Sep 30 2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


  • time-lapse imaging, circuit assembly, olfactory system, olfactory receptor neurons, antennal lobe, Drosophilia, growth cone, cytoskeleton, bilateral symmetry, target selection


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