During neural development in Drosophila, the ability of neurite branches to recognize whether they are from the same or different neurons depends crucially on the molecule Dscam1. In particular, this recognition depends on the stochastic acquisition of a unique combination of Dscam1 isoforms out of a large set of possible isoforms. To properly interpret these findings, it is crucial to understand the combinatorics involved, which has previously been attempted only using stochastic simulations for some specific parameter combinations. Here we present closed-form solutions for the general case. These reveal the relationships among the key variables and how these constrain possible biological scenarios.

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