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Nat Neurosci. 2014 Jan;17(1):81-8. doi: 10.1038/nn.3581. Epub 2013 Nov 17.

Female contact modulates male aggression via a sexually dimorphic GABAergic circuit in Drosophila.

Author information

1
1] Department of Physiology and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA. [2] [3].
2
1] Department of Physiology and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA. [2].
3
Department of Physiology and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA.

Abstract

Intraspecific male-male aggression, which is important for sexual selection, is regulated by environment, experience and internal states through largely undefined molecular and cellular mechanisms. To understand the basic neural pathway underlying the modulation of this innate behavior, we established a behavioral assay in Drosophila melanogaster and investigated the relationship between sexual experience and aggression. In the presence of mating partners, adult male flies exhibited elevated levels of aggression, which was largely suppressed by prior exposure to females via a sexually dimorphic neural mechanism. The suppression involved the ability of male flies to detect females by contact chemosensation through the pheromone-sensing ion channel ppk29 and was mediated by male-specific GABAergic neurons acting on the GABAA receptor RDL in target cells. Silencing or activating this circuit led to dis-inhibition or elimination of sex-related aggression, respectively. We propose that the GABAergic inhibition represents a critical cellular mechanism that enables prior experience to modulate aggression.

PMID:
24241395
PMCID:
PMC3995170
DOI:
10.1038/nn.3581
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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