Assembly of somatosensory circuitry

How is somatosensory information represented in the central nervous system?  What are the developmental mechanisms that generate somatosensory axon maps?

Animals detect and respond to a variety of stimuli impinging on their skin, including mechanical information, temperature, and noxious cues.  We generated an anatomical map at single axon resolution of somatosensory projections within the CNS in Drosophila.  We found evidence for precise differences in axon targeting among distinct groups of sensory neurons.  We are now taking molecular, anatomical, and behavioral approach to identify the mechanisms that allow neurons to make these precise projections.  We are also identifying interneurons in the CNS that are targets of somatosensory neurons.  With this information we aim to determine how sensory neurons and interneurons establish specific wiring.