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How behavior and information is encoded in brain circuits and how individual neurons influence these brain circuits is a growing question in neuroscience. In the nervous system of many organisms, including humans and Drosophila, exists a subset of neurons that are capable of releasing more than one neurotransmitter, a phenomena called co-transmission. How co-transmission may alter circuits dedicated to behavior is a challenging question. To begin to answer this question we used the genetic tools available in Drosophila to investigate how the release of two neurotransmitters from a single neuron can alter aggression. Astrocytes surround the synapses of neurons that release glutamate and prevent accumulation of glutamate at the synapse by removing it using the Excitatory Amino Acid Transporter 1 (EAAT1). We obtained Drosophila stocks that, when crossed to one another, produced knockdowns of the EAAT1 in the astrocytes in order to observe any changes in aggression caused by inhibition of glutamate reuptake. We used behavioral assays to observe any differences in behavior between EAAT1 knockdown animals and control animals. In our preliminary data we did not observe enhanced aggression in Drosophila males as a result of EAAT1 knockdown. This study suggests that higher amounts of glutamate may not produce enhanced aggression in Drosophila.

Glutamate may be the most abundant neurotransmitter in the CNS. Therefore, it is vital that we understand how glutamate affects individual neurons, entire brain circuits, and behavior. If we can better understand the role of glutamate in disorders that are connected to an increase in aggressive behavior such as dementia, schizophrenia, and traumatic brain injury, then more effective medications and interventions can be developed to treat these disorders.

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Apr 28th, 10:00 AM Apr 28th, 10:20 AM

EAAT This: How EAAT1 Knockdown in Astrocytes Alters Aggression in Drosophila melanogaster

UC 327

How behavior and information is encoded in brain circuits and how individual neurons influence these brain circuits is a growing question in neuroscience. In the nervous system of many organisms, including humans and Drosophila, exists a subset of neurons that are capable of releasing more than one neurotransmitter, a phenomena called co-transmission. How co-transmission may alter circuits dedicated to behavior is a challenging question. To begin to answer this question we used the genetic tools available in Drosophila to investigate how the release of two neurotransmitters from a single neuron can alter aggression. Astrocytes surround the synapses of neurons that release glutamate and prevent accumulation of glutamate at the synapse by removing it using the Excitatory Amino Acid Transporter 1 (EAAT1). We obtained Drosophila stocks that, when crossed to one another, produced knockdowns of the EAAT1 in the astrocytes in order to observe any changes in aggression caused by inhibition of glutamate reuptake. We used behavioral assays to observe any differences in behavior between EAAT1 knockdown animals and control animals. In our preliminary data we did not observe enhanced aggression in Drosophila males as a result of EAAT1 knockdown. This study suggests that higher amounts of glutamate may not produce enhanced aggression in Drosophila.

Glutamate may be the most abundant neurotransmitter in the CNS. Therefore, it is vital that we understand how glutamate affects individual neurons, entire brain circuits, and behavior. If we can better understand the role of glutamate in disorders that are connected to an increase in aggressive behavior such as dementia, schizophrenia, and traumatic brain injury, then more effective medications and interventions can be developed to treat these disorders.