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31 Publications

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    11/16/15 | Propagation of homeostatic sleep signals by segregated synaptic microcircuits of the Drosophila mushroom body.
    Sitaraman D, Aso Y, Jin X, Chen N, Felix M, Rubin GM, Nitabach MN
    Current Biology : CB. 2015 Nov 16;25(22):2915-27. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.09.017

    The Drosophila mushroom body (MB) is a key associative memory center that has also been implicated in the control of sleep. However, the identity of MB neurons underlying homeostatic sleep regulation, as well as the types of sleep signals generated by specific classes of MB neurons, has remained poorly understood. We recently identified two MB output neuron (MBON) classes whose axons convey sleep control signals from the MB to converge in the same downstream target region: a cholinergic sleep-promoting MBON class and a glutamatergic wake-promoting MBON class. Here, we deploy a combination of neurogenetic, behavioral, and physiological approaches to identify and mechanistically dissect sleep-controlling circuits of the MB. Our studies reveal the existence of two segregated excitatory synaptic microcircuits that propagate homeostatic sleep information from different populations of intrinsic MB "Kenyon cells" (KCs) to specific sleep-regulating MBONs: sleep-promoting KCs increase sleep by preferentially activating the cholinergic MBONs, while wake-promoting KCs decrease sleep by preferentially activating the glutamatergic MBONs. Importantly, activity of the sleep-promoting MB microcircuit is increased by sleep deprivation and is necessary for homeostatic rebound sleep (i.e., the increased sleep that occurs after, and in compensation for, sleep lost during deprivation). These studies reveal for the first time specific functional connections between subsets of KCs and particular MBONs and establish the identity of synaptic microcircuits underlying transmission of homeostatic sleep signals in the MB.

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    11/09/15 | Control of sleep by dopaminergic inputs to the Drosophila mushroom body.
    Sitaraman D, Aso Y, Rubin GM, Nitabach MN
    Frontiers in Neural Circuits. 2015 Nov 09;9:73. doi: 10.3389/fncir.2015.00073

    The Drosophila mushroom body (MB) is an associative learning network that is important for the control of sleep. We have recently identified particular intrinsic MB Kenyon cell (KC) classes that regulate sleep through synaptic activation of particular MB output neurons (MBONs) whose axons convey sleep control signals out of the MB to downstream target regions. Specifically, we found that sleep-promoting KCs increase sleep by preferentially activating cholinergic sleep-promoting MBONs, while wake-promoting KCs decrease sleep by preferentially activating glutamatergic wake-promoting MBONs. Here we use a combination of genetic and physiological approaches to identify wake-promoting dopaminergic neurons (DANs) that innervate the MB, and show that they activate wake-promoting MBONs. These studies reveal a dopaminergic sleep control mechanism that likely operates by modulation of KC-MBON microcircuits.

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    10/08/15 | Plasticity-driven individualization of olfactory coding in mushroom body output neurons.
    Hige T, Aso Y, Rubin GM, Turner GC
    Nature. 2015 Oct 8;526(7572):258-62. doi: 10.1038/nature15396

    Although all sensory circuits ascend to higher brain areas where stimuli are represented in sparse, stimulus-specific activity patterns, relatively little is known about sensory coding on the descending side of neural circuits, as a network converges. In insects, mushroom bodies have been an important model system for studying sparse coding in the olfactory system, where this format is important for accurate memory formation. In Drosophila, it has recently been shown that the 2,000 Kenyon cells of the mushroom body converge onto a population of only 34 mushroom body output neurons (MBONs), which fall into 21 anatomically distinct cell types. Here we provide the first, to our knowledge, comprehensive view of olfactory representations at the fourth layer of the circuit, where we find a clear transition in the principles of sensory coding. We show that MBON tuning curves are highly correlated with one another. This is in sharp contrast to the process of progressive decorrelation of tuning in the earlier layers of the circuit. Instead, at the population level, odour representations are reformatted so that positive and negative correlations arise between representations of different odours. At the single-cell level, we show that uniquely identifiable MBONs display profoundly different tuning across different animals, but that tuning of the same neuron across the two hemispheres of an individual fly was nearly identical. Thus, individualized coordination of tuning arises at this level of the olfactory circuit. Furthermore, we find that this individualization is an active process that requires a learning-related gene, rutabaga. Ultimately, neural circuits have to flexibly map highly stimulus-specific information in sparse layers onto a limited number of different motor outputs. The reformatting of sensory representations we observe here may mark the beginning of this sensory-motor transition in the olfactory system.

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    05/14/05 | A dopamine-modulated neural circuit regulating aversive taste memory in Drosophila.
    Masek P, Worden K, Aso Y, Rubin GM, Keene AC
    Current Biology. 2015 May 14;25(11):1535-41. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.04.027

    Taste memories allow animals to modulate feeding behavior in accordance with past experience and avoid the consumption of potentially harmful food [1]. We have developed a single-fly taste memory assay to functionally interrogate the neural circuitry encoding taste memories [2]. Here, we screen a collection of Split-GAL4 lines that label small populations of neurons associated with the fly memory center-the mushroom bodies (MBs) [3]. Genetic silencing of PPL1 dopamine neurons disrupts conditioned, but not naive, feeding behavior, suggesting these neurons are selectively involved in the conditioned taste response. We identify two PPL1 subpopulations that innervate the MB α lobe and are essential for aversive taste memory. Thermogenetic activation of these dopamine neurons during training induces memory, indicating these neurons are sufficient for the reinforcing properties of bitter tastant to the MBs. Silencing of either the intrinsic MB neurons or the output neurons from the α lobe disrupts taste conditioning. Thermogenetic manipulation of these output neurons alters naive feeding response, suggesting that dopamine neurons modulate the threshold of response to appetitive tastants. Taken together, these findings detail a neural mechanism underlying the formation of taste memory and provide a functional model for dopamine-dependent plasticity in Drosophila.

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    12/23/14 | Mushroom body output neurons encode valence and guide memory-based action selection in Drosophila.
    Aso Y, Sitaraman D, Ichinose T, Kaun KR, Vogt K, Belliart-Guérin G, Placais P, Robie AA, Yamagata N, Schnaitmann C, Rowell WJ, Johnston RM, Ngo TB, Chen N, Korff W, Nitabach MN, Heberlein U, Preat T, Branson KM, Tanimoto H, Rubin GM
    eLife. 12/2014;4:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.04580

    Animals discriminate stimuli, learn their predictive value and use this knowledge to modify their behavior. In Drosophila, the mushroom body (MB) plays a key role in these processes. Sensory stimuli are sparsely represented by ∼2000 Kenyon cells, which converge onto 34 output neurons (MBONs) of 21 types. We studied the role of MBONs in several associative learning tasks and in sleep regulation, revealing the extent to which information flow is segregated into distinct channels and suggesting possible roles for the multi-layered MBON network. We also show that optogenetic activation of MBONs can, depending on cell type, induce repulsion or attraction in flies. The behavioral effects of MBON perturbation are combinatorial, suggesting that the MBON ensemble collectively represents valence. We propose that local, stimulus-specific dopaminergic modulation selectively alters the balance within the MBON network for those stimuli. Our results suggest that valence encoded by the MBON ensemble biases memory-based action selection.

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    12/23/14 | The neuronal architecture of the mushroom body provides a logic for associative learning.
    Aso Y, Hattori D, Yu Y, Johnston RM, Iyer NA, Ngo T, Dionne H, Abbott L, Axel R, Tanimoto H, Rubin GM
    eLife. 2014 Dec 23;3:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.04577

    We identified the neurons comprising the Drosophila mushroom body (MB), an associative center in invertebrate brains, and provide a comprehensive map describing their potential connections. Each of the 21 MB output neuron (MBON) types elaborates segregated dendritic arbors along the parallel axons of ∼2000 Kenyon cells, forming 15 compartments that collectively tile the MB lobes. MBON axons project to five discrete neuropils outside of the MB and three MBON types form a feedforward network in the lobes. Each of the 20 dopaminergic neuron (DAN) types projects axons to one, or at most two, of the MBON compartments. Convergence of DAN axons on compartmentalized Kenyon cell-MBON synapses creates a highly ordered unit that can support learning to impose valence on sensory representations. The elucidation of the complement of neurons of the MB provides a comprehensive anatomical substrate from which one can infer a functional logic of associative olfactory learning and memory.

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    08/19/14 | Shared mushroom body circuits underlie visual and olfactory memories in Drosophila.
    Vogt K, Schnaitmann C, Dylla KV, Knapek S, Aso Y, Rubin GM, Tanimoto H
    eLife. 2014;3:e02395. doi: 10.7554/eLife.02395

    In nature, animals form memories associating reward or punishment with stimuli from different sensory modalities, such as smells and colors. It is unclear, however, how distinct sensory memories are processed in the brain. We established appetitive and aversive visual learning assays for Drosophila that are comparable to the widely used olfactory learning assays. These assays share critical features, such as reinforcing stimuli (sugar reward and electric shock punishment), and allow direct comparison of the cellular requirements for visual and olfactory memories. We found that the same subsets of dopamine neurons drive formation of both sensory memories. Furthermore, distinct yet partially overlapping subsets of mushroom body intrinsic neurons are required for visual and olfactory memories. Thus, our results suggest that distinct sensory memories are processed in a common brain center. Such centralization of related brain functions is an economical design that avoids the repetition of similar circuit motifs.

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    06/08/13 | Essential role of the mushroom body in context-dependent CO2 avoidance in Drosophila.
    Bräcker LB, Siju KP, Varela N, Aso Y, Zhang M, Hein I, Vasconcelos ML, Grunwald Kadow IC
    Current Biology. 2013 Jul 8;23(13):1228-34. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.05.029

    Internal state as well as environmental conditions influence choice behavior. The neural circuits underpinning state-dependent behavior remain largely unknown. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is an important olfactory cue for many insects, including mosquitoes, flies, moths, and honeybees [1]. Concentrations of CO2 higher than 0.02% above atmospheric level trigger a strong innate avoidance in the fly Drosophila melanogaster [2, 3]. Here, we show that the mushroom body (MB), a brain center essential for olfactory associative memories [4-6] but thought to be dispensable for innate odor processing [7], is essential for CO2 avoidance behavior only in the context of starvation or in the context of a food-related odor. Consistent with this, CO2 stimulation elicits Ca(2+) influx into the MB intrinsic cells (Kenyon cells: KCs) in vivo. We identify an atypical projection neuron (bilateral ventral projection neuron, biVPN) that connects CO2 sensory input bilaterally to the MB calyx. Blocking synaptic output of the biVPN completely abolishes CO2 avoidance in food-deprived flies, but not in fed flies. These findings show that two alternative neural pathways control innate choice behavior, and they are dependent on the animal’s internal state. In addition, they suggest that, during innate choice behavior, the MB serves as an integration site for internal state and olfactory input.

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    10/25/12 | A GAL4-driver line resource for Drosophila neurobiology.
    Jenett A, Rubin GM, Ngo TB, Shepherd D, Murphy C, Dionne H, Pfeiffer BD, Cavallaro A, Hall D, Jeter J, Iyer N, Fetter D, Hausenfluck JH, Peng H, Trautman ET, Svirskas RR, Myers EW, Iwinski ZR, Aso Y, Depasquale GM, Enos A, Hulamm P, Lam SC, Li H, Laverty TR, Long F, Qu L, Murphy SD, Rokicki K, Safford T, Shaw K, Simpson JH, Sowell A, Tae S, Yu Y, Zugates CT
    Cell Reports. 2012 Oct 25;2(4):991-1001. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2012.09.011

    We established a collection of 7,000 transgenic lines of Drosophila melanogaster. Expression of GAL4 in each line is controlled by a different, defined fragment of genomic DNA that serves as a transcriptional enhancer. We used confocal microscopy of dissected nervous systems to determine the expression patterns driven by each fragment in the adult brain and ventral nerve cord. We present image data on 6,650 lines. Using both manual and machine-assisted annotation, we describe the expression patterns in the most useful lines. We illustrate the utility of these data for identifying novel neuronal cell types, revealing brain asymmetry, and describing the nature and extent of neuronal shape stereotypy. The GAL4 lines allow expression of exogenous genes in distinct, small subsets of the adult nervous system. The set of DNA fragments, each driving a documented expression pattern, will facilitate the generation of additional constructs for manipulating neuronal function. synapse was substantially elevated, at the endocytic zone there was no enhanced polymerization activity. We conclude that actin subserves spatially diverse, independently regulated processes throughout spines. Perisynaptic actin forms a uniquely dynamic structure well suited for direct, active regulation of the synapse.

    For the overall strategy and methods used to produce the GAL4 lines:
    Pfeiffer, B.D., Jenett, A., Hammonds, A.S., Ngo, T.T., Misra, S., Murphy, C., Scully, A., Carlson, J.W., Wan, K.H., Laverty, T.R., Mungall, C., Svirskas, R., Kadonaga, J.T., Doe, C.Q., Eisen, M.B., Celniker, S.E., Rubin, G.M. (2008). Tools for neuroanatomy and neurogenetics in Drosophila. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 105, 9715-9720. http://www.pnas.org/content/105/28/9715.full.pdf+html synapse was substantially elevated, at the endocytic zone there was no enhanced polymerization activity. We conclude that actin subserves spatially diverse, independently regulated processes throughout spines. Perisynaptic actin forms a uniquely dynamic structure well suited for direct, active regulation of the synapse.

    For data on expression in the embryo:
    Manning, L., Purice, M.D., Roberts, J., Pollard, J.L., Bennett, A.L., Kroll, J.R., Dyukareva, A.V., Doan, P.N., Lupton, J.R., Strader, M.E., Tanner, S., Bauer, D., Wilbur, A., Tran, K.D., Laverty, T.R., Pearson, J.C., Crews, S.T., Rubin, G.M., and Doe, C.Q. (2012) Annotated embryonic CNS expression patterns of 5000 GMR GAL4 lines: a resource for manipulating gene expression and analyzing cis-regulatory motifs. Cell Reports (2012) Doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2012.09.009 http://www.cell.com/cell-reports/fulltext/S2211-1247(12)00290-2 synapse was substantially elevated, at the endocytic zone there was no enhanced polymerization activity. We conclude that actin subserves spatially diverse, independently regulated processes throughout spines. Perisynaptic actin forms a uniquely dynamic structure well suited for direct, active regulation of the synapse.

    For data on expression in imaginal discs:
    Jory, A., Estella, C., Giorgianni, M.W., Slattery, M., Laverty, T.R., Rubin, G.M., and Mann, R.S. (2012) A survey of 6300 genomic fragments for cis-regulatory activity in the imaginal discs of Drosophila melanogaster. Cell Reports (2012) Doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2012.09.010 http://www.cell.com/cell-reports/fulltext/S2211-1247(12)00291-4 synapse was substantially elevated, at the endocytic zone there was no enhanced polymerization activity. We conclude that actin subserves spatially diverse, independently regulated processes throughout spines. Perisynaptic actin forms a uniquely dynamic structure well suited for direct, active regulation of the synapse.

    For data on expression in the larval nervous system:
    Li, H.-H., Kroll, J.R., Lennox, S., Ogundeyi, O., Jeter, J., Depasquale, G., and Truman, J.W. (2013) A GAL4 driver resource for developmental and behavioral studies on the larval CNS of Drosophila. Cell Reports (submitted).

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    08/23/12 | A subset of dopamine neurons signals reward for odour memory in Drosophila.
    Liu C, Placais P, Yamagata N, Pfeiffer BD, Aso Y, Friedrich AB, Siwanowicz I, Rubin GM, Preat T, Tanimoto H
    Nature. 2012 Aug 23;488(7412):512-6. doi: 10.1038/nature11304

    Animals approach stimuli that predict a pleasant outcome. After the paired presentation of an odour and a reward, Drosophila melanogaster can develop a conditioned approach towards that odour. Despite recent advances in understanding the neural circuits for associative memory and appetitive motivation, the cellular mechanisms for reward processing in the fly brain are unknown. Here we show that a group of dopamine neurons in the protocerebral anterior medial (PAM) cluster signals sugar reward by transient activation and inactivation of target neurons in intact behaving flies. These dopamine neurons are selectively required for the reinforcing property of, but not a reflexive response to, the sugar stimulus. In vivo calcium imaging revealed that these neurons are activated by sugar ingestion and the activation is increased on starvation. The output sites of the PAM neurons are mainly localized to the medial lobes of the mushroom bodies (MBs), where appetitive olfactory associative memory is formed. We therefore propose that the PAM cluster neurons endow a positive predictive value to the odour in the MBs. Dopamine in insects is known to mediate aversive reinforcement signals. Our results highlight the cellular specificity underlying the various roles of dopamine and the importance of spatially segregated local circuits within the MBs.

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