Title

Mapping male aggression and courtship circuitry: Characterizing octopamine and GABA neurons in the Drosophila brain

Presentation Type

Poster

Abstract

All animals, including humans, must respond to environmental and social cues in order to survive. Behavioral responses to the environment typically involve extensive neural networks and complex genetic interactions. I am using the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, as a model organism to examine the neural networks involved in aggression and reproductive/courtship responses to social cues. Recent studies indicate that courtship is the default behavior for a male fly. In response to a second male fly, courtship must be inhibited in order for aggressive behavior to be initiated. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the predominant inhibitory neurotransmitter in many organisms including Drosophila as well as humans, and could be a potential mechanism through which courtship is inhibited and the transition to aggressive behavior is made. In addition, previous studies have established the octopamine (OA) neuromodulatory system as an important component of the choice between aggression and courtship behavior. Male flies with altered OA levels display elevated levels of male-male courtship and reduced levels of aggressive behavior. Using several genetic expression techniques and confocal microscopy, I identified a subset of OA neurons that also express GABA. Furthermore, I determined this octopamine-GABA neuronal subset also expresses male forms of Fruitless (FruM), a gene necessary for the establishment of sex-specific behaviors. This distinct subset of neurons expressing a neuromodulator (OA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter (GABA), and male specific proteins (FruM), could play a critical role in regulating behavioral transitions between courtship and aggression. We are currently examining the effects of manipulating the activity of these neurons in courtship and aggression assays. Understanding the neural networks involved in behavioral responses to the environment in Drosophila could lead to our understanding of behavior in higher organisms, including humans.

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Apr 13th, 11:00 AM Apr 13th, 12:00 PM

Mapping male aggression and courtship circuitry: Characterizing octopamine and GABA neurons in the Drosophila brain

UC Ballroom

All animals, including humans, must respond to environmental and social cues in order to survive. Behavioral responses to the environment typically involve extensive neural networks and complex genetic interactions. I am using the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, as a model organism to examine the neural networks involved in aggression and reproductive/courtship responses to social cues. Recent studies indicate that courtship is the default behavior for a male fly. In response to a second male fly, courtship must be inhibited in order for aggressive behavior to be initiated. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the predominant inhibitory neurotransmitter in many organisms including Drosophila as well as humans, and could be a potential mechanism through which courtship is inhibited and the transition to aggressive behavior is made. In addition, previous studies have established the octopamine (OA) neuromodulatory system as an important component of the choice between aggression and courtship behavior. Male flies with altered OA levels display elevated levels of male-male courtship and reduced levels of aggressive behavior. Using several genetic expression techniques and confocal microscopy, I identified a subset of OA neurons that also express GABA. Furthermore, I determined this octopamine-GABA neuronal subset also expresses male forms of Fruitless (FruM), a gene necessary for the establishment of sex-specific behaviors. This distinct subset of neurons expressing a neuromodulator (OA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter (GABA), and male specific proteins (FruM), could play a critical role in regulating behavioral transitions between courtship and aggression. We are currently examining the effects of manipulating the activity of these neurons in courtship and aggression assays. Understanding the neural networks involved in behavioral responses to the environment in Drosophila could lead to our understanding of behavior in higher organisms, including humans.