Axon morphogenesis and local RNA regulation in Drosophila

By extending to specific locations and branching in a specific manner, neuronal processes determine how the nervous system is wired to produce behavior. Axonal projections, in particular, acquire a complex and cell type-specific morphology controlled by a precise developmental program, and dictated by both intrinsic and extrinsic cues. Recent work has suggested that local post-transcriptional regulation of mRNAs encoding both receptors to guidance cues, and cytoskeleton regulators is essential for axon morphogenesis in vitro.

We are using Drosophila adult Mushroom Body neurons as a model system to study the importance and the mechanisms of sub-cellular mRNA targeting and translational control during axon growth in vivo. In particular, we aim at identifying the nature of the transported mRNAs, as well as the trans-acting factors controlling axonal mRNA transport and translation.

Figure 1 - Mushroom Body expression pattern

Figure 2 - Examples of axon projection patterns

We have shown that an RNA-binding protein with conserved role in mRNA targeting is expressed in a sub-population of Mushroom Body neurons (gamma neurons, Figure 1), and that its function is required cell-autonomously for polarized growth and branching of axons (Figure 2).

Using a combination of genetic and biochemical approaches, we are now focussing on the following research projects:

•  systematic identification of mRNA targets using a RIP-chip technique (Figure 3)

•  loss-of-function screen to identify other conserved RNA binding proteins regulating axon guidance and/or branching

•  live-cell imaging to study the dynamic regulation of mRNA molecules and associated proteins within axons

Figure 3 - Principe of the RIP-chip technique
Last publications

Linking amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and spinal muscular atrophy through RNA-transcriptome homeostasis: a genomics perspective. - 2017 - Journal of neurochemistry - 141 P12-30 - Gama-Carvalho M, L Garcia-Vaquero M, R Pinto F, Besse F, Weis J, Voigt A, Schulz JB, and De Las Rivas,J

Live imaging of axonal transport in Drosophila pupal brain explants. - 2015 - Nature protocols - 10 P574-584 - Medioni C, Ephrussi A, and Besse,F

Drosophila Hrp48 Is Required for Mushroom Body Axon Growth, Branching and Guidance. - 2015 - PloS one - 10 Pe0136610 - Bruckert H, Marchetti G, Ramialison M, and Besse,F

The TRIM-NHL Protein Brat Promotes Axon Maintenance by Repressing src64B Expression. - 2014 - The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience - 34 P13855-64 - Marchetti G, Reichardt I, Knoblich JA, and Besse,F

Imp Promotes Axonal Remodeling by Regulating profilin mRNA during Brain Development. - 2014 - Current biology : CB - 24 P793-800 - Medioni C, Ramialison M, Ephrussi A, and Besse,F

Principles and roles of mRNA localization in animal development. - 2012 - Development - 139 P3263-76 - Medioni C, Mowry K, and Besse,F

Drosophila PTB promotes formation of high-order RNP particles and represses oskar translation. - 2009 - Genes Dev - 23 P195-207. * contributed equally to the work. - Besse* F, Lopez de Quinto* S, Marchand V, Trucco A, and Ephrussi,A

Translational control of localized mRNAs: restricting protein synthesis in space and time. - 2008 - Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol - 9 P971-80 - Besse F, and Ephrussi,A

The Ig cell adhesion molecule Basigin controls compartmentalization and vesicle release at Drosophila melanogaster synapses. - 2007 - J Cell Biol - 177 P843-55 - Besse F, Mertel S, Kittel RJ, Wichmann C, Rasse TM, Sigrist SJ, and Ephrussi,A

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Besse Florence
Group Leader

2009 HFSPO Award


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Members Team
   De Graeve Fabienne
   Medioni Caroline
   Formicola Nadia
   Pushpalatha Kavya Vinayan
   Razetti Augustina
   Vijayakumar Jeshlee
Engineers & Technicians
   Palin Lucile
Photos ...

    June 2014 - F. Besse Team
   1 CDD Ingnieur biologiste   Closed

    July 2012 - Florence Besse Team
   1 CDD Ingenieur 1+1   Closed

    October 2009 - F. Besse Team
   1 POST-DOC position   Closed

    January 2009 - F. Besse team Team
   1 POST-DOC Positions   Closed



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