irregular chiasm C (irreC) is an X-linked genetic function necessary for the correct projection of visual fibers in the optic chiasms of Drosophila optic ganglia. In addition to a severe disorganization of the inner optic chiasm irreC mutants display a subtle phenotype in the outer optic chiasm, in which some bundles of axons that leave the posterior equatorial part of the lamina on their way to the anterior medulla take a long detour before eventually finding their specific targets in the medulla neuropile. Deletion and recombination mapping of two irreC alleles (one P-element induced, the other associated with an inversion) have yielded a precise cytogenetic location in 3C4-5. A complex complementation pattern between roughest (rst) and irreC alleles indicates that both genetic functions are structurally and/or functionally closely interrelated. Flies in which the irreC locus is completely deleted by overlapping deficiencies are viable and their defects in the optic chiasms are similar to those seen in the two alleles. The defects in the outer and inner optic chiasms are not epigenetically connected and mosaic analyses have shown them to be independent from the genotype of the compound eye. Although the larval visual nerve looks normal, we have found that in the optic lobes of irreC mutants a group of early differentiating larval axons is misplaced, suggesting a pioneering function of these cells during organization of the outer optic chiasm.
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