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Science 297 (5585): 1355-1358

Copyright © 2002 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

hamlet, a Binary Genetic Switch Between Single- and Multiple- Dendrite Neuron Morphology

Adrian W. Moore, Lily Yeh Jan, Yuh Nung Jan*

The dendritic morphology of neurons determines the number and type of inputs they receive. In the Drosophila peripheral nervous system (PNS), the external sensory (ES) neurons have a single nonbranched dendrite, whereas the lineally related multidendritic (MD) neurons have extensively branched dendritic arbors. We report that hamlet is a binary genetic switch between these contrasting morphological types. In hamlet mutants, ES neurons are converted to an MD fate, whereas ectopic hamlet expression in MD precursors results in transformation of MD neurons into ES neurons. Moreover, hamlet expression induced in MD neurons undergoing dendrite outgrowth drastically reduces arbor branching.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Departments of Physiology and Biochemistry, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.
*   To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: ynjan{at}

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