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Behav Genet. 2013 May;43(3):227-40. doi: 10.1007/s10519-013-9583-0. Epub 2013 Feb 1.

Functional mapping of the neuronal substrates for drug tolerance in Drosophila.

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Section of Neurobiology and Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research, The University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station C0920, Austin, TX 78712-0248, USA.


Physical dependence on alcohol and anesthetics stems from neuroadaptive changes that act to counter the effects of sedation in the brain. In Drosophila, exposure to either alcohol or solvent anesthetics have been shown to induce changes in expression of the BK-type Ca(2+)-activated K(+) channel gene slo. An increase in slo expression produces an adaptive modulation of neural activity that generates resistance to sedation and promotes drug tolerance and dependence. Increased BK channel activity counteracts the sedative effects of these drugs by reducing the neuronal refractory period and enhancing the capacity of neurons for repetitive firing. However, the brain regions or neuronal populations capable of producing inducible resistance or tolerance remain unknown. Here we map the neuronal substrates relevant for the slo-dependent modulation of drug sensitivity. Using spatially-controlled induction of slo expression we identify the mushroom bodies, the ellipsoid body and a subset of the circadian clock neurons as pivotal regions for the control of recovery from sedation.

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