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Morphology and electrophysiological properties of neurons projecting to the retrocerebral complex in the blow fly, Protophormia terraenovae

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Morphological and electrical properties of neurons with somata in the pars intercerebralis (PI) and pars lateralis (PL) were examined by intracellular recording and staining in the adult blow fly, Protophormia terraenovae. According to the location of somata and fiber distribution, two types of PI neurons (PIa and PIb) and two types of PL neurons (PLa and PLb) were identified. PIb neurons were further divided into two subgroups of PIb1 and PIb2 depending on fiber branching patterns in the retrocerebral complex. PIa neurons projected axons to the contralateral nervi corporis cardiaci, whereas PLa and PLb neurons projected axons to the ipsilateral nervi corporis cardiaci. PIb neurons characteristically showed symmetrical morphology with their somata along the midline. PLb neurons had a large branching area in the subesophageal ganglion. In the retrocerebral complex, PIb2 and PLa neurons sent fibers into the corpus allatum. PIa, PIb1 and PLb neurons projected not to the corpus allatum but to the corpus cardiacum–hypocerebral complex or visceral muscles in their vicinity. PIa, PIb and PLa neurons showed long spike durations (3–10 ms). PLb neurons were immunoreactive with antisera against corazonin, FMRFamide, or β-pigment-dispersing hormone. This is the first report revealing the morphology of individual neurons with somata residing in PI and PL in the adult fly.

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Fig. 1
Fig. 2a–c
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Fig. 4a, b
Fig. 5a–c
Fig. 6
Fig. 7a–e
Fig. 8a–e



β-Pigment-dispersing hormone


Corpus allatum


Corpus cardiacum


Corpus cardiacum and hypocerebral ganglion


Eclosion hormone


Juvenile hormone


Long-day and high-temperature


Median bundle


Nervi corporis cardiaci


Neurosecretory cell


Phosphate-buffered saline


Phosphate-buffered saline with Triton X


Pigment-dispersing factor


Pars intercerebralis


Pars lateralis


Posterior lateral tract


Prothoracicotropic hormone


Subesophageal ganglion


Short-day and low-temperature


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We thank Dr. D.R. Nässel, Stockholm University for reading through the manuscript and giving critical comments, and Drs. T. Ichikawa, T. Nakamura, and S. Yamashita, Kyushu University for valuable comments and technical support. We are also grateful to Dr. K.R. Rao, West Florida University and Dr. J.A. Veenstra, Bordeaux University for kindly providing the antisera.

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Correspondence to Sakiko Shiga.

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The authors acknowledge a research grant from the Naito Foundation, a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research C (13640686) from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, and a Grant-in-Aid for Young Scientists B (15770050) from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology of Japan

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Hamanaka, Y., Numata, H. & Shiga, S. Morphology and electrophysiological properties of neurons projecting to the retrocerebral complex in the blow fly, Protophormia terraenovae. Cell Tissue Res 318, 403–418 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00441-004-0935-1

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  • Corazonin
  • FMRFamide
  • Pars intercerebralis
  • Pars lateralis
  • Pigment-dispersing hormone
  • Blow fly, Protophormia terraenovae, female (Insecta)