Faculté des sciences

The serotonergic central nervous system of the drosophila larva: anatomy and behavioral function

Huser, Annina ; Rohwedder, Astrid ; Apostolopoulou, Anthi A. ; Widmann, Annekathrin ; Pfitzenmaier, Johanna E. R. ; Maiolo, Elena M. ; Selcho, Mareike ; Pauls, Dennis ; Essen, Alina von ; Gupta, Tripti ; Sprecher, Simon G. ; Birman, Serge ; Riemensperger, Thomas ; Stocker, Reinhard F. ; Thum, Andreas S.

In: PLoS ONE, 2012, vol. 7, no. 10, p. e47518

The Drosophila larva has turned into a particularly simple model system for studying the neuronal basis of innate behaviors and higher brain functions. Neuronal networks involved in olfaction, gustation, vision and learning and memory have been described during the last decade, often up to the single-cell level. Thus, most of these sensory networks are substantially defined, from the sensory... Di più

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    Summary
    The Drosophila larva has turned into a particularly simple model system for studying the neuronal basis of innate behaviors and higher brain functions. Neuronal networks involved in olfaction, gustation, vision and learning and memory have been described during the last decade, often up to the single-cell level. Thus, most of these sensory networks are substantially defined, from the sensory level up to third-order neurons. This is especially true for the olfactory system of the larva. Given the wealth of genetic tools in Drosophila it is now possible to address the question how modulatory systems interfere with sensory systems and affect learning and memory. Here we focus on the serotonergic system that was shown to be involved in mammalian and insect sensory perception as well as learning and memory. Larval studies suggested that the serotonergic system is involved in the modulation of olfaction, feeding, vision and heart rate regulation. In a dual anatomical and behavioral approach we describe the basic anatomy of the larval serotonergic system, down to the single-cell level. In parallel, by expressing apoptosis-inducing genes during embryonic and larval development, we ablate most of the serotonergic neurons within the larval central nervous system. When testing these animals for naïve odor, sugar, salt and light perception, no profound phenotype was detectable; even appetitive and aversive learning was normal. Our results provide the first comprehensive description of the neuronal network of the larval serotonergic system. Moreover, they suggest that serotonin per se is not necessary for any of the behaviors tested. However, our data do not exclude that this system may modulate or fine-tune a wide set of behaviors, similar to its reported function in other insect species or in mammals. Based on our observations and the availability of a wide variety of genetic tools, this issue can now be addressed.