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Neuron. 2011 Jun 9;70(5):979-90. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2011.03.030.

arouser reveals a role for synapse number in the regulation of ethanol sensitivity.

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Department of Anatomy, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94158, USA.


A reduced sensitivity to the sedating effects of alcohol is a characteristic associated with alcohol use disorders (AUDs). A genetic screen for ethanol sedation mutants in Drosophila identified arouser (aru), which functions in developing neurons to reduce ethanol sensitivity. Genetic evidence suggests that aru regulates ethanol sensitivity through its activation by Egfr/Erk signaling and its inhibition by PI3K/Akt signaling. The aru mutant also has an increased number of synaptic terminals in the larva and adult fly. Both the increased ethanol sensitivity and synapse number of the aru mutant are restored upon adult social isolation, suggesting a causal relationship between synapse number and ethanol sensitivity. We thus show that a developmental abnormality affecting synapse number and ethanol sensitivity is not permanent and can be reversed by manipulating the environment of the adult fly.

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