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Sci Rep. 2017 Mar 15;7:44595. doi: 10.1038/srep44595.

Active and passive sexual roles that arise in Drosophila male-male courtship are modulated by dopamine levels in PPL2ab neurons.

Author information

Department of Applied Chemistry, National Chi Nan University, 54561 Nantou, Taiwan.
Department of Life Science, Fu Jen Catholic University, 24205 New Taipei City, Taiwan.
Department of Life Science and Life Science Center, Tunghai University, 40704 Taichung, Taiwan.
Department of Biochemistry and Graduate Institute of Biomedical Sciences, College of Medicine, Chang Gung University, 33302 Taoyuan, Taiwan.
Department of Neurology, Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, 33305 Taoyuan, Taiwan.
Graduate Institute of Brain and Mind Sciences, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, 10051 Taipei, Taiwan.
Department of Medical Laboratory Science and Biotechnology, Chung Hwa University of Medical Technology, 71703 Tainan, Taiwan.
School of Medical Laboratory Science and Biotechnology, College of Medical Science and Technology, Taipei Medical University, 11031 Taipei, Taiwan.
Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, National Yang Ming University, 11221 Taipei, Taiwan.
Department of Psychiatry, Taichung Veterans General Hospital, 40705 Taichung, Taiwan.


The neurology of male sexuality has been poorly studied owing to difficulties in studying brain circuitry in humans. Dopamine (DA) is essential for both physiological and behavioural responses, including the regulation of sexuality. Previous studies have revealed that alterations in DA synthesis in dopaminergic neurons can induce male-male courtship behaviour, while increasing DA levels in the protocerebral posteriolateral dopaminergic cluster neuron 2ab (PPL2ab) may enhance the intensity of male courtship sustainment in Drosophila. Here we report that changes in the ability of the PPL2ab in the central nervous system (CNS) to produce DA strongly impact male-male courtship in D. melanogaster. Intriguingly, the DA-synthesizing abilities of these neurons appear to affect both the courting activities displayed by male flies and the sex appeal of male flies for other male flies. Moreover, the observed male-male courtship is triggered primarily by target motion, yet chemical cues can replace visual input under dark conditions. This is interesting evidence that courtship responses in male individuals are controlled by PPL2ab neurons in the CNS. Our study provides insight for subsequent studies focusing on sexual circuit modulation by PPL2ab neurons.

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