Intracellular trafficking in Drosophila visual system development: A basis for pattern formation through simple mechanisms

Chih Chiang Chan, Daniel Epstein, P. Robin Hiesinger

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Intracellular trafficking underlies cellular functions ranging from membrane remodeling to receptor activation. During multicellular organ development, these basic cell biological functions are required as both passive machinery and active signaling regulators. Exocytosis, endocytosis, and recycling of several key signaling receptors have long been known to actively regulate morphogenesis and pattern formation during Drosophila eye development. Hence, intracellular membrane trafficking not only sets the cell biological stage for receptor-mediated signaling but also actively controls signaling through spatiotemporally regulated receptor localization. In contrast to eye development, the role of intracellular trafficking for the establishment of the eye-to-brain connectivity map has only recently received more attention. It is still poorly understood how guidance receptors are spatiotemporally regulated to serve as meaningful synapse formation signals. Yet, the Drosophila visual system provides some of the most striking examples for the regulatory role of intracellular trafficking during multicellular organ development. In this review we will first highlight the experimental and conceptual advances that motivate the study of intracellular trafficking during Drosophila visual system development. We will then illuminate the development of the eye, the eye-to-brain connectivity map and the optic lobe from the perspective of cell biological dynamics. Finally, we provide a conceptual framework that seeks to explain how the interplay of simple genetically encoded intracellular trafficking events governs the seemingly complex cellular behaviors, which in turn determine the developmental product.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1227-1245
Number of pages19
JournalDevelopmental Neurobiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2011


  • Degradation
  • Neurogenetics
  • Optic lobe
  • Receptor sorting
  • Signaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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