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Nat Commun. 2015 Jun 30;6:7490. doi: 10.1038/ncomms8490.

PPL2ab neurons restore sexual responses in aged Drosophila males through dopamine.

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Department of Applied Chemistry, National Chi Nan University, 54561 Nantou, Taiwan.
1] Department of Biochemistry and Graduate Institute of Biomedical Sciences, College of Medicine, Chang Gung University, 33302 Taoyuan, Taiwan [2] Department of Medical Research, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, 33305 Taoyuan, Taiwan.
Department of Medical Laboratory Science and Biotechnology, Chung Hwa University of Medical Technology, 70703 Tainan, Taiwan.
Institute of Biotechnology, Institute of Systems Neuroscience, and Department of Life Science, National Tsing Hua University, 30013 Hsinchu, Taiwan.
Graduate Institute of Brain and Mind Sciences, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, 10051 Taipei, Taiwan.
1] Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, National Yang Ming University, 11221 Taipei, Taiwan [2] Department of Psychiatry, Taichung Veterans General Hospital, 40705 Taichung, Taiwan.


Male sexual desire typically declines with ageing. However, our understanding of the neurobiological basis for this phenomenon is limited by our knowledge of the brain circuitry and neuronal pathways controlling male sexual desire. A number of studies across species suggest that dopamine (DA) affects sexual desire. Here we use genetic tools and behavioural assays to identify a novel subset of DA neurons that regulate age-associated male courtship activity in Drosophila. We find that increasing DA levels in a subset of cells in the PPL2ab neuronal cluster is necessary and sufficient for increased sustained courtship in both young and aged male flies. Our results indicate that preventing the age-related decline in DA levels in PPL2ab neurons alleviates diminished courtship behaviours in male Drosophila. These results may provide the foundation for deciphering the circuitry involved in sexual motivation in the male Drosophila brain.

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