Developing neurons must meet core molecular, cellular, and temporal requirements to ensure the correct formation of synapses, resulting in functional circuits. However, because of the vast diversity in neuronal class and function, it is unclear whether or not all neurons use the same organizational mechanisms to form synaptic connections and achieve functional and morphologic maturation. Moreover, it remains unknown whether neurons united in a common goal and comprising the same sensory circuit develop on similar timescales and use identical molecular approaches to ensure the formation of the correct number of synapses. To begin to answer these questions, we took advantage of the Drosophila antennal lobe (AL), a model olfactory circuit with remarkable genetic access and synapse-level resolution. Using tissue-specific genetic labeling of active zones, we performed a quantitative analysis of synapse formation in multiple classes of neurons of both sexes throughout development and adulthood. We found that olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs), projection neurons (PNs), and local interneurons (LNs) each have unique time courses of synaptic development, addition, and refinement, demonstrating that each class follows a distinct developmental program. This raised the possibility that these classes may also have distinct molecular requirements for synapse formation. We genetically altered neuronal activity in each neuronal subtype and observed differing effects on synapse number based on the neuronal class examined. Silencing neuronal activity in ORNs, PNs, and LNs impaired synaptic development but only in ORNs did enhancing neuronal activity influence synapse formation. ORNs and LNs demonstrated similar impairment of synaptic development with enhanced activity of a master kinase, GSK-3β, suggesting that neuronal activity and GSK-3β kinase activity function in a common pathway. ORNs also, however, demonstrated impaired synaptic development with GSK-3β loss-of-function, suggesting additional activity-independent roles in development. Ultimately, our results suggest that the requirements for synaptic development are not uniform across all neuronal classes with considerable diversity existing in both their developmental time frames and molecular requirements. These findings provide novel insights into the mechanisms of synaptic development and lay the foundation for future work determining their underlying etiologies.
Aimino, Michael A.; DePew, Alison T.; Restrepo, Lucas; and Mosca, Timothy J., "Synaptic Development in Diverse Olfactory Neuron Classes Uses Distinct Temporal and Activity-Related Programs" (2022). Farber Institute for Neuroscience Faculty Papers. Paper 46.
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