Brief Communication abstract

Nature Neuroscience 9, 1234 - 1236 (2006)
Published online: 17 September 2006 | doi:10.1038/nn1774

Local caspase activity directs engulfment of dendrites during pruning

Darren W Williams1,2, Shu Kondo3,4,5,6, Agnieszka Krzyzanowska1, Yasushi Hiromi3,4,5 & James W Truman2


Pruning is important for sculpting neural circuits, as it removes excessive or inaccurate projections. Here we show that the removal of sensory neuron dendrites during pruning in Drosophila melanogaster is directed by local caspase activity. Suppressing caspase activity prevented dendrite removal, whereas a global activation of caspases within a neuron caused cell death. A new genetically encoded caspase probe revealed that caspase activity is confined to the degenerating dendrites of pruning neurons.

  1. MRC Centre for Developmental Neurobiology, King's College London, London SE1 1UL, UK.
  2. Department of Biology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA.
  3. Department of Developmental Genetics, National Institute of Genetics, Mishima, Shizuoka 411-8540, Japan.
  4. CREST, Japan Science and Technology Agency, National Institute of Genetics, Mishima, Shizuoka 411-8540, Japan.
  5. Department of Genetics, SOKENDAI, Mishima, Shizuoka 411-8540, Japan.
  6. Division of Morphology and Organogenesis, Institute of DNA Medicine, Jikei University School of Medicine, Tokyo 105-8461, Japan.

Correspondence to: Darren W Williams1,2 e-mail:


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