Drosophila larval NMJ dissection

Jonathan Robert Brent, Kristen M. Werner, Brian D. McCabe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The Drosophila neuromuscular junction (NMJ) is an established model system used for the study of synaptic development and plasticity. The widespread use of the Drosophila motor system is due to its high accessibility. It can be analyzed with single-cell resolution. There are 30 muscles per hemisegment whose arrangement within the peripheral body wall are known. A total of 35 motor neurons attach to these muscles in a pattern that has high fidelity. Using molecular biology and genetics, one can create transgenic animals or mutants. Then, one can study the developmental consequences on the morphology and function of the NMJ. In order to access the NMJ for study, it is necessary to carefully dissect each larva. In this article we demonstrate how to properly dissect Drosophila larvae for study of the NMJ by removing all internal organs while leaving the body wall intact. This technique is suitable to prepare larvae for imaging, immunohistochemistry, or electrophysiology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1107
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number24
StatePublished - Feb 2009


  • Developmental biology
  • Drosophila
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Issue 24
  • Larvae
  • NMJ
  • Neuroscienc

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)


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