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Copf, T. (2015). Importance of gene dosage in controlling dendritic arbor formation during development.  Europ. J. Neurosci. 42(6): 2234--2249.
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Proper dendrite morphology is crucial for normal nervous system functioning. While a number of genes have been implicated in dendrite morphogenesis in both invertebrates and mammals, it remains unclear how developing dendrites respond to changes in gene dosage and what type of patterns their responses may follow. To understand this, I review here evidence from the recent literature, focusing on the genetic studies performed in the Drosophila larval dendritic arborization class IV neuron, an excellent cell type to understand dendrite morphogenesis. I summarize how class IV arbors change morphology in response to developmental fluctuations in the expression levels of 47 genes, studied by means of genetic manipulations such as loss-of-function and gain-of-function, and for which sufficient information is available. I find that arbors can respond to changing gene dosage in several distinct ways, each characterized by a singular dose-response curve. Interestingly, in 72% of cases arbors are sensitive, and thus adjust their morphology, in response to both decreases and increases in the expression of a given gene, indicating that dendrite morphogenesis is a process particularly sensitive to gene dosage. By summarizing the parallels between Drosophila and mammals, I show that many Drosophila dendrite morphogenesis genes have orthologs in mammals, and that some of these are associated with mammalian dendrite outgrowth and human neurodevelopmental disorders. One notable disease-related molecule is kinase Dyrk1A, thought to be a causative factor in Down syndrome. Both increases and decreases in Dyrk1A gene dosage lead to impaired dendrite morphogenesis, which may contribute to Down syndrome pathoetiology.

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    Europ. J. Neurosci.
    European Journal of Neuroscience
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