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J Neurosci. 2013 Mar 20;33(12):5340-5. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2287-12.2013.

Short neuropeptide F acts as a functional neuromodulator for olfactory memory in Kenyon cells of Drosophila mushroom bodies.

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Behavioral Genetics, Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, Martinsried, D-82152 Germany.


In insects, many complex behaviors, including olfactory memory, are controlled by a paired brain structure, the so-called mushroom bodies (MB). In Drosophila, the development, neuroanatomy, and function of intrinsic neurons of the MB, the Kenyon cells, have been well characterized. Until now, several potential neurotransmitters or neuromodulators of Kenyon cells have been anatomically identified. However, whether these neuroactive substances of the Kenyon cells are functional has not been clarified yet. Here we show that a neuropeptide precursor gene encoding four types of short neuropeptide F (sNPF) is required in the Kenyon cells for appetitive olfactory memory. We found that activation of Kenyon cells by expressing a thermosensitive cation channel (dTrpA1) leads to a decrease in sNPF immunoreactivity in the MB lobes. Targeted expression of RNA interference against the sNPF precursor in Kenyon cells results in a highly significant knockdown of sNPF levels. This knockdown of sNPF in the Kenyon cells impairs sugar-rewarded olfactory memory. This impairment is not due to a defect in the reflexive sugar preference or odor response. Consistently, knockdown of sNPF receptors outside the MB causes deficits in appetitive memory. Altogether, these results suggest that sNPF is a functional neuromodulator released by Kenyon cells.

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