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Cell. 2014 Jan 16;156(1-2):221-35. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2013.11.045.

Tachykinin-expressing neurons control male-specific aggressive arousal in Drosophila.

Author information

1
Howard Hughes Medical Institute, California Institute of Technology, 1200 E. California Boulevard, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA; Division of Biology, 156-29, California Institute of Technology, 1200 E. California Boulevard, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA.
2
Howard Hughes Medical Institute, California Institute of Technology, 1200 E. California Boulevard, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA; Division of Biology, 156-29, California Institute of Technology, 1200 E. California Boulevard, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA; Janelia Farm Research Campus, HHMI, 19700 Helix Drive, Ashburn, VA 20147, USA.
3
Division of Engineering and Applied Science, California Institute of Technology, 1200 E. California Boulevard, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA.
4
Howard Hughes Medical Institute, California Institute of Technology, 1200 E. California Boulevard, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA; Division of Biology, 156-29, California Institute of Technology, 1200 E. California Boulevard, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA. Electronic address: wuwei@caltech.edu.

Abstract

Males of most species are more aggressive than females, but the neural mechanisms underlying this dimorphism are not clear. Here, we identify a neuron and a gene that control the higher level of aggression characteristic of Drosophila melanogaster males. Males, but not females, contain a small cluster of FruM(+) neurons that express the neuropeptide tachykinin (Tk). Activation and silencing of these neurons increased and decreased, respectively, intermale aggression without affecting male-female courtship behavior. Mutations in both Tk and a candidate receptor, Takr86C, suppressed the effect of neuronal activation, whereas overexpression of Tk potentiated it. Tk neuron activation overcame reduced aggressiveness caused by eliminating a variety of sensory or contextual cues, suggesting that it promotes aggressive arousal or motivation. Tachykinin/Substance P has been implicated in aggression in mammals, including humans. Thus, the higher aggressiveness of Drosophila males reflects the sexually dimorphic expression of a neuropeptide that controls agonistic behaviors across phylogeny.

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PMID:
24439378
PMCID:
PMC3978814
DOI:
10.1016/j.cell.2013.11.045
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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