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Dev Biol. 2003 Dec 1;264(1):38-49.

Distinct octopamine cell population residing in the CNS abdominal ganglion controls ovulation in Drosophila melanogaster.

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Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Foundation of Research and Technology-Hellas, 71110 Heraklion, Crete, Greece.


Octopamine is an important neuroactive substance that modulates several physiological functions and behaviors of invertebrate species. Its biosynthesis involves two steps, one of which is catalyzed by Tyramine beta-hydroxylase enzyme (TBH). The Tbetah gene has been previously cloned from Drosophila melanogaster, and null mutations have been generated resulting in octopamine-less flies that show profound female sterility. Here, I show that ovulation process is defective in the mutant females resulting in blockage of mature oocytes within the ovaries. The phenotype is conditionally rescued by expressing a Tbetah cDNA under the control of a hsp70 promoter in adult females. Fertility of the mutant females is also restored when TBH is expressed, via the GAL4-UAS system, in cells of the CNS abdominal ganglion that express TBH and produce octopamine. This neuronal population differs from the dopamine- and serotonin-expressing cells indicating distinct patterns of expression and function of the three substances in the region. Finally, I demonstrate that these TBH-expressing cells project to the periphery where they innervate the ovaries and the oviducts of the reproductive system. The above results point to a neuronal focus that can synthesize and release octopamine in specific sites of the female reproductive system where the amine is required to trigger ovulation.

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