Contrary to our knowledge of the genetic control of midline crossing, the mechanisms that generate and maintain the longitudinal axon pathways of the Drosophila CNS are largely unknown. The longitudinal pathways are formed by ipsilateral pioneer axons and the longitudinal glia. The longitudinal glia dictate these axonal trajectories and provide trophic support to later projecting follower neurons. Follower interneuron axons cross the midline once and join these pathways to form the longitudinal connectives. Once on the contralateral side, longitudinal axons are repelled from recrossing the midline by the midline repulsive signal Slit and its axonal receptor Roundabout. We show that longitudinal glia also transiently express roundabout, which halts their ventral migration short of the midline. Once in contact with axons, glia cease to express roundabout and become dependent on neurons for their survival. Trophic support and cell-cell contact restrict glial movement and axonal trajectories. The significance of this relationship is revealed when neuron-glia interactions are disrupted by neuronal ablation or mutation in the glial cells missing gene, which eliminates glia, when axons and glia cross the midline despite continued midline repellent signalling.

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