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PLoS Genet. 2013;9(10):e1003843. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1003843. Epub 2013 Oct 10.

A novel role for ecdysone in Drosophila conditioned behavior: linking GPCR-mediated non-canonical steroid action to cAMP signaling in the adult brain.

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1
Department of Anesthesia and Pharmacology, Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, United States of America.

Abstract

The biological actions of steroid hormones are mediated primarily by their cognate nuclear receptors, which serve as steroid-dependent transcription factors. However, steroids can also execute their functions by modulating intracellular signaling cascades rapidly and independently of transcriptional regulation. Despite the potential significance of such "non-genomic" steroid actions, their biological roles and the underlying molecular mechanisms are not well understood, particularly with regard to their effects on behavioral regulation. The major steroid hormone in the fruit fly Drosophila is 20-hydroxy-ecdysone (20E), which plays a variety of pivotal roles during development via the nuclear ecdysone receptors. Here we report that DopEcR, a G-protein coupled receptor for ecdysteroids, is involved in activity- and experience-dependent plasticity of the adult central nervous system. Remarkably, a courtship memory defect in rutabaga (Ca²⁺/calmodulin-responsive adenylate cyclase) mutants was rescued by DopEcR overexpression or acute 20E feeding, whereas a memory defect in dunce (cAMP-specific phosphodiestrase) mutants was counteracted when a loss-of-function DopEcR mutation was introduced. A memory defect caused by suppressing dopamine synthesis was also restored through enhanced DopEcR-mediated ecdysone signaling, and rescue and phenocopy experiments revealed that the mushroom body (MB)--a brain region central to learning and memory in Drosophila--is critical for the DopEcR-dependent processing of courtship memory. Consistent with this finding, acute 20E feeding induced a rapid, DopEcR-dependent increase in cAMP levels in the MB. Our multidisciplinary approach demonstrates that DopEcR mediates the non-canonical actions of 20E and rapidly modulates adult conditioned behavior through cAMP signaling, which is universally important for neural plasticity. This study provides novel insights into non-genomic actions of steroids, and opens a new avenue for genetic investigation into an underappreciated mechanism critical to behavioral control by steroids.

PMID:
24130506
PMCID:
PMC3794910
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pgen.1003843
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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