Whole mount preparation of the adult Drosophila ventral nerve cord for giant fiber dye injection.


To analyze the axonal and dendritic morphology of neurons, it is essential to obtain accurate labeling of neuronal structures. Preparing well labeled samples with little to no tissue damage enables us to analyze cell morphology and to compare individual samples to each other, hence allowing the identification of mutant anomalies. In the demonstrated dissection method the nervous system remains mostly inside the adult fly. Through a dorsal incision, the abdomen and thorax are opened and most of the internal organs are removed. Only the dorsal side of the ventral nerve cord (VNC) and the cervical connective (CvC) containing the big axons of the giant fibers (GFs) are exposed, while the brain containing the GF cell body and dendrites remains in the intact head. In this preparation most nerves of the VNC should remain attached to their muscles. Following the dissection, the intracellular filling of the giant fiber (GF) with a fluorescent dye is demonstrated. In the CvC the GF axons are located at the dorsal surface and thus can be easily visualized under a microscope with differential interference contrast (DIC) optics. This allows the injection of the GF axons with dye at this site to label the entire GF including the axons and their terminals in the VNC. This method results in reliable and strong staining of the GFs allowing the neurons to be imaged immediately after filling with an epifluorescent microscope. Alternatively, the fluorescent signal can be enhanced using standard immunohistochemistry procedures suitable for high resolution confocal microscopy.

DOI: 10.3791/3080

Cite this paper

@article{Boerner2011WholeMP, title={Whole mount preparation of the adult Drosophila ventral nerve cord for giant fiber dye injection.}, author={Jana Boerner and Tanja A Godenschwege}, journal={Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE}, year={2011}, volume={52} }