Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Connectivity of chemosensory neurons is controlled by the gene poxn in Drosophila


THE function of the nervous system depends on the formation of a net of appropriate connections, but little is known of the genetic program underlying this process. In Drosophila two genes that specify different types of sense organs have been identified: cut (ct)1,2, which specifies the formation of external sense organs as opposed to chordotonal organs, and pox-neuro (poxn)3, which specifies the formation of poly-innervated (chemosensory) organs as opposed to mono-innervated (mechanosensory) organs. Whether these genes are also involved in specifying the connectivity of the corresponding neurons is not known. The larval sense organs are unsuitable for analysis of the axonal pathway and connections and so we have investigated the effect of poxn on the adult. Here we show that overexpression of poxn induces the morphological trans-formation of mechanosensory into chemosensory bristles on the legs and that the neurons innervating the morphologically transformed bristles follow pathways and establish connections that are appropriate for chemosensory bristles.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Get just this article for as long as you need it


Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout


  1. Bodmer, R. et al. Cell 51, 293–307. (1987).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Blochinger, K., Jan, L. Y. & Jan, Y. N. Genes Dev. 5, 1124–1135 (1991).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Dambly-Chaudiere, C. et al. Cell 69, 159–172 (1992).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Bate, C. M. in Handbook of Sensory Physiology (ed. M. Jacobson) Vol. XI (Springer, Berlin, 1976).

    Google Scholar 

  5. Tobler, H., Rothenbühler, V. & Nöthiger, R. Experentia 29, 170–171 (1973).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Held, L. I. Jr Roux's Arch. dev. Biol. 199, 31–47 (1990).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Hartenstein, V. & Posakony, J. Devl Biol. 142, 13–30 (1990).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Murphey, R. K., Possidente, R. K., Vandervorst, P. & Ghysen, A. J. Neurosci. 9, 3209–3217 (1989).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Dethier, V. G. in The Physiology of Insect Senses 126–155 (Methuen, London, 1965).

    Google Scholar 

  10. Treisman, J., Harris, E. & Desplan, C. Genes Dev. 5, 594–604 (1991).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Ghysen, A. Devl Biol. 78, 521–541 (1980).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Teugels, E. & Ghysen, A. Prog. Brain Res. 58, 305–312 (1983).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Ghysen, A. Nature 274, 869–872 (1978).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Nottebohm, E., Dambly-Chaudière, C. & Ghysen, A. Connectivity of chemosensory neurons is controlled by the gene poxn in Drosophila. Nature 359, 829–832 (1992).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing