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Neuron. 2007 Dec 20;56(6):1090-102.

GABAA receptor RDL inhibits Drosophila olfactory associative learning.

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Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


In both mammals and insects, neurons involved in learning are strongly modulated by the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA. The GABAA receptor, resistance to dieldrin (Rdl), is highly expressed in the Drosophila mushroom bodies (MBs), a group of neurons playing essential roles in insect olfactory learning. Flies with increased or decreased expression of Rdl in the MBs were generated. Olfactory associative learning tests showed that Rdl overexpression impaired memory acquisition but not memory stability. This learning defect was due to disrupting the physiological state of the adult MB neurons rather than causing developmental abnormalities. Remarkably, Rdl knockdown enhanced memory acquisition but not memory stability. Functional cellular imaging experiments showed that Rdl overexpression abolished the normal calcium responses of the MBs to odors while Rdl knockdown increased these responses. Together, these data suggest that RDL negatively modulates olfactory associative learning, possibly by gating the input of olfactory information into the MBs.

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