In Drosophila melanogaster, the axons of retinal photoreceptor cells extend to the first optic ganglion, the lamina forming a topographic representation. Here we show that DWnt4, a secreted protein of the Wnt family, is the ventral cue for the lamina In DWnt4 mutants, ventral retinal axons misprojected to the dorsal lamina. DWnt4 was normally expressed in the ventral half of the developing lamina and DWnt4 protein was detected along ventral retinal axons. Dfrizzled2 and dishevelled, respectively encode a receptor and a signaling molecule required for Wnt signaling. Mutations in both genes caused DWnt4-like defects and both genes were autonomously required in the retina, suggesting a direct role of DWnt4 in retinal axon guidance. In contrast iroquois homeobox genes are the dorsal cues for the retina. Dorsal axons accumulated DWnt4 and misprojected to the ventral lamina in iroquois mutants; the phenotype was suppressed in iroquois Dfrizzled2 mutants, suggesting that iroquois may attenuate the competence of Dfrizzled2 to respond to DWnt4.
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