Title

Dissecting octopamine circuits regulating male aggression and courtship in drosophila

Presentation Type

Poster

Abstract

Organisms receive information about their environment through stimuli such as touch, light, or chemicals. Chemicals that are designated as pheromones produced by males and females aid in social behavior, e.g. courtship and aggression, by identifying the gender of an organism and whether that organism belongs to the same species. Many amines such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine (or octopamine, the invertebrate equivalent of norepinephrine), function as neuromodulators to regulate pheromone input. By identifying specific cell-cell contacts between octopamine neurons and neurons that respond to pheromones and examining the roles of these neurons in male social behavior, we directly connect amine regulation to pheromonal communication. In this study, we ablated specific pheromone-responsive neurons designated as Gr32a neurons or removed the Gr32a gene in small subsets of 8-10 Gr32a-expressing neurons to demonstrate that this gene and these neurons are essential to start male aggression and inhibit nonproductive male-male courtship. In a second set of experiments, we ablated octopamine neurons, or removed the gene encoding the enzyme to make octopamine, and likewise demonstrated that this neuromodulator, is essential for males to start fighting in a timely manner and shut off male-male courtship. To further identify components of the octopaminergic modulatory system that effect aggression, we ablated target neurons that receive OA signaling through the function of an OA receptor, OAb1R. When we remove OAb1R-expressing neurons, the males fight significantly less than control males as measured by quantifying the number of lunges (an important aggressive behavioral pattern) and take significantly longer to start fighting. Due to the importance of neuromodulator-signaling in many behavioral processes and the increasing capabilities of manipulating individual neurons in Drosophila, results presented here pave the way to decipher how sex-specific aggression and courtship are wired into the nervous system of any organism.

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

Dissecting octopamine circuits regulating male aggression and courtship in drosophila

UC Ballroom

Organisms receive information about their environment through stimuli such as touch, light, or chemicals. Chemicals that are designated as pheromones produced by males and females aid in social behavior, e.g. courtship and aggression, by identifying the gender of an organism and whether that organism belongs to the same species. Many amines such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine (or octopamine, the invertebrate equivalent of norepinephrine), function as neuromodulators to regulate pheromone input. By identifying specific cell-cell contacts between octopamine neurons and neurons that respond to pheromones and examining the roles of these neurons in male social behavior, we directly connect amine regulation to pheromonal communication. In this study, we ablated specific pheromone-responsive neurons designated as Gr32a neurons or removed the Gr32a gene in small subsets of 8-10 Gr32a-expressing neurons to demonstrate that this gene and these neurons are essential to start male aggression and inhibit nonproductive male-male courtship. In a second set of experiments, we ablated octopamine neurons, or removed the gene encoding the enzyme to make octopamine, and likewise demonstrated that this neuromodulator, is essential for males to start fighting in a timely manner and shut off male-male courtship. To further identify components of the octopaminergic modulatory system that effect aggression, we ablated target neurons that receive OA signaling through the function of an OA receptor, OAb1R. When we remove OAb1R-expressing neurons, the males fight significantly less than control males as measured by quantifying the number of lunges (an important aggressive behavioral pattern) and take significantly longer to start fighting. Due to the importance of neuromodulator-signaling in many behavioral processes and the increasing capabilities of manipulating individual neurons in Drosophila, results presented here pave the way to decipher how sex-specific aggression and courtship are wired into the nervous system of any organism.