Coordination between stochastic and deterministic specification in the Drosophila visual system

Maximilien Courgeon, Claude Desplan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sensory systems use stochastic fate specification to increase their repertoire of neuronal types. How these stochastic decisions are coordinated with the development of their targets is unknown. In the Drosophila retina, two subtypes of ultraviolet-sensitive R7 photoreceptors are stochastically specified. In contrast, their targets in the brain are specified through a deterministic program. We identified subtypes of the main target of R7, the Dm8 neurons, each specific to the different subtypes of R7s. Dm8 subtypes are produced in excess by distinct neuronal progenitors, independently from R7. After matching with their cognate R7, supernumerary Dm8s are eliminated by apoptosis. Two interacting cell adhesion molecules, Dpr11 and DIPγ, are essential for the matching of one of the synaptic pairs. These mechanisms allow the qualitative and quantitative matching of R7 and Dm8 and thereby permit the stochastic choice made in R7 to propagate to the brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbereaay6727
Issue number6463
StatePublished - Oct 18 2019


  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules/genetics
  • Cell Communication
  • Cell Lineage
  • Cell Shape
  • Cell Survival
  • Color Vision
  • Compound Eye, Arthropod/physiology
  • Drosophila Proteins/genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster/growth & development
  • Mutation
  • Neurons/cytology
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Invertebrate/cytology
  • Stochastic Processes
  • Synapses/physiology


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