Dendrite regeneration mediates functional recovery after complete dendrite removal

J. Ian Hertzler, Annabelle R. Bernard, Melissa M. Rolls

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Unlike many cell types, neurons are not typically replaced if damaged. Therefore, regeneration of damaged cellular domains is critical for maintenance of neuronal function. While axon regeneration has been documented for several hundred years, it has only recently become possible to determine whether neurons respond to dendrite removal with regeneration. Regrowth of dendrite arbors has been documented in invertebrate and vertebrate model systems, but whether it leads to functional restoration of a circuit remains unknown. To test whether dendrite regeneration restores function, we used larval Drosophila nociceptive neurons. Their dendrites detect noxious stimuli to initiate escape behavior. Previous studies of Drosophila sensory neurons have shown that dendrites of single neurons regrow after laser severing. We removed dendrites from 16 neurons per animal to clear most of the dorsal surface of nociceptive innervation. As expected, this reduced aversive responses to noxious touch. Surprisingly, behavior was completely restored 24 ​h after injury, at the stage when dendrite regeneration has begun, but the new arbor has only covered a small portion of its former territory. This behavioral recovery required regenerative outgrowth as it was eliminated in a genetic background in which new growth is blocked. We conclude that dendrite regeneration can restore behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-25
Number of pages8
JournalDevelopmental biology
StatePublished - May 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology

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