Development of somatosensory circuitry

How are dendritic territories and axon targets established?  How do cell-cell interactions determine these morphologies?  

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 approaches 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 neuron axons and interneuron dendrites establish specific wiring.