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Nature. 2010 Dec 2;468(7324):686-90. doi: 10.1038/nature09554.

A dimorphic pheromone circuit in Drosophila from sensory input to descending output.

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1
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, New York 10032, USA.

Abstract

Drosophila show innate olfactory-driven behaviours that are observed in naive animals without previous learning or experience, suggesting that the neural circuits that mediate these behaviours are genetically programmed. Despite the numerical simplicity of the fly nervous system, features of the anatomical organization of the fly brain often confound the delineation of these circuits. Here we identify a neural circuit responsive to cVA, a pheromone that elicits sexually dimorphic behaviours. We have combined neural tracing using an improved photoactivatable green fluorescent protein (PA-GFP) with electrophysiology, optical imaging and laser-mediated microlesioning to map this circuit from the activation of sensory neurons in the antennae to the excitation of descending neurons in the ventral nerve cord. This circuit is concise and minimally comprises four neurons, connected by three synapses. Three of these neurons are overtly dimorphic and identify a male-specific neuropil that integrates inputs from multiple sensory systems and sends outputs to the ventral nerve cord. This neural pathway suggests a means by which a single pheromone can elicit different behaviours in the two sexes.

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PMID:
21124455
DOI:
10.1038/nature09554
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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