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Curr Biol. 2009 Sep 15;19(17):1447-52. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2009.06.063. Epub 2009 Jul 30.

Ecdysone receptor acts in fruitless- expressing neurons to mediate drosophila courtship behaviors.

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Section of Molecular and Computational Biology, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA.


In Drosophila melanogaster, fruitless (fru) encodes male-specific transcription factors (FRU(M); encoded by fru P1) required for courtship behaviors (reviewed in). However, downstream effectors of FRU(M) throughout development are largely unknown. During metamorphosis the nervous system is remodeled for adult function, the timing of which is coordinated by the steroid hormone 20-hydroxyecdysone (ecdysone) through the ecdysone receptor, a heterodimer of the nuclear receptors EcR (isoforms are EcR-A, EcR-B1, or EcR-B2) and Ultraspiracle (USP) (reviewed in). Here, we show that genes identified as regulated downstream of FRU(M) during metamorphosis are significantly overrepresented with genes known to be regulated in response to ecdysone or EcR. FRU(M) and EcR isoforms are coexpressed in neurons in the CNS during metamorphosis in an isoform-specific manner. Reduction of EcR-A levels in fru P1-expressing neurons of males caused a significant increase in male-male courtship activity and significant reduction in size of two antennal lobe glomeruli. Additional genes were identified that are regulated downstream of EcR-A in fru P1-expressing neurons. Thus, EcR-A is required in fru P1-expressing neurons for wild-type male courtship behaviors and the establishment of male-specific neuronal architecture.

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