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Note: Research in this publication was not performed at Janelia.
During the metamorphic reorganization of the insect central nervous system, the steroid hormone 20-hydroxyecdysone induces a wide spectrum of cellular responses including neuronal proliferation, maturation, cell death and the remodeling of larval neurons into their adult forms. In Drosophila, expression of specific ecdysone receptor (EcR) isoforms has been correlated with particular responses, suggesting that different EcR isoforms may govern distinct steroid-induced responses in these cells. We have used imprecise excision of a P element to create EcR deletion mutants that remove the EcR-B promoter and therefore should lack EcR-B1 and EcR-B2 expression but retain EcR-A expression. Most of these EcR-B mutant animals show defects in larval molting, arresting at the boundaries between the three larval stages, while a smaller percentage of EcR-B mutants survive into the early stages of metamorphosis. Remodeling of larval neurons at metamorphosis begins with the pruning back of larval-specific dendrites and occurs as these cells are expressing high levels of EcR-B1 and little EcR-A. This pruning response is blocked in the EcR-B mutants despite the fact that adult-specific neurons, which normally express only EcR-A, can progress in their development. These observations support the hypothesis that different EcR isoforms control cell-type-specific responses during remodeling of the nervous system at metamorphosis.