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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Mar 20;104(12):5199-204. Epub 2007 Mar 13.

Peripheral multidendritic sensory neurons are necessary for rhythmic locomotion behavior in Drosophila larvae.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.


From breathing to walking, rhythmic movements encompass physiological processes important across the entire animal kingdom. It is thought by many that the generation of rhythmic behavior is operated by a central pattern generator (CPG) and does not require peripheral sensory input. Sensory feedback is, however, required to modify or coordinate the motor activity in response to the circumstances of actual movement. In contrast to this notion, we report here that sensory input is necessary for the generation of Drosophila larval locomotion, a form of rhythmic behavior. Blockage of all peripheral sensory inputs resulted in cessation of larval crawling. By conditionally silencing various subsets of larval peripheral sensory neurons, we identified the multiple dendritic (MD) neurons as the neurons essential for the generation of rhythmic peristaltic locomotion. By recording the locomotive motor activities, we further demonstrate that removal of MD neuron input disrupted rhythmic motor firing pattern in a way that prolonged the stereotyped segmental motor firing duration and prevented the propagation of posterior to anterior segmental motor firing. These findings reveal that MD sensory neuron input is a necessary component in the neural circuitry that generates larval locomotion.

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