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38 Publications

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    Baker Lab
    07/28/17 | Genetic and neuronal mechanisms governing the sex-specific interaction between sleep and sexual behaviors in Drosophila.
    Chen D, Sitaraman D, Chen N, Jin X, Han C, Chen J, Sun M, Baker BS, Nitabach MN, Pan Y
    Nature Communications. 2017 Jul 28;8(1):154. doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-00087-5

    Animals execute one particular behavior among many others in a context-dependent manner, yet the mechanisms underlying such behavioral choice remain poorly understood. Here we studied how two fundamental behaviors, sex and sleep, interact at genetic and neuronal levels in Drosophila. We show that an increased need for sleep inhibits male sexual behavior by decreasing the activity of the male-specific P1 neurons that coexpress the sex determination genes fru (M) and dsx, but does not affect female sexual behavior. Further, we delineate a sex-specific neuronal circuit wherein the P1 neurons encoding increased courtship drive suppressed male sleep by forming mutually excitatory connections with the fru (M) -positive sleep-controlling DN1 neurons. In addition, we find that FRU(M) regulates male courtship and sleep through distinct neural substrates. These studies reveal the genetic and neuronal basis underlying the sex-specific interaction between sleep and sexual behaviors in Drosophila, and provide insights into how competing behaviors are co-regulated.Genes and circuits involved in sleep and sexual arousal have been extensively studied in Drosophila. Here the authors identify the sex determination genes fruitless and doublesex, and a sex-specific P1-DN1 neuronal feedback that governs the interaction between these competing behaviors.

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    Baker Lab
    10/20/16 | Memory elicited by courtship conditioning requires mushroom body neuronal subsets similar to those utilized in appetitive memory.
    Montague SA, Baker BS
    PLoS One. 2016 Oct 20;11(10):e0164516. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0164516

    An animal's ability to learn and to form memories is essential for its survival. The fruit fly has proven to be a valuable model system for studies of learning and memory. One learned behavior in fruit flies is courtship conditioning. In Drosophila courtship conditioning, male flies learn not to court females during training with an unreceptive female. He retains a memory of this training and for several hours decreases courtship when subsequently paired with any female. Courtship conditioning is a unique learning paradigm; it uses a positive-valence stimulus, a female fly, to teach a male to decrease an innate behavior, courtship of the female. As such, courtship conditioning is not clearly categorized as either appetitive or aversive conditioning. The mushroom body (MB) region in the fruit fly brain is important for several types of memory; however, the precise subsets of intrinsic and extrinsic MB neurons necessary for courtship conditioning are unknown. Here, we disrupted synaptic signaling by driving a shibirets effector in precise subsets of MB neurons, defined by a collection of split-GAL4 drivers. Out of 75 lines tested, 32 showed defects in courtship conditioning memory. Surprisingly, we did not have any hits in the γ lobe Kenyon cells, a region previously implicated in courtship conditioning memory. We did find that several γ lobe extrinsic neurons were necessary for courtship conditioning memory. Overall, our memory hits in the dopaminergic neurons (DANs) and the mushroom body output neurons were more consistent with results from appetitive memory assays than aversive memory assays. For example, protocerebral anterior medial DANs were necessary for courtship memory, similar to appetitive memory, while protocerebral posterior lateral 1 (PPL1) DANs, important for aversive memory, were not needed. Overall, our results indicate that the MB circuits necessary for courtship conditioning memory coincide with circuits necessary for appetitive memory.

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    Baker Lab
    02/16/16 | Sex-specific regulation of Lgr3 in Drosophila neurons.
    Meissner GW, Luo SD, Dias BG, Texada MJ, Baker BS
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2016 Feb 18:. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1600241113

    The development of sexually dimorphic morphology and the potential for sexually dimorphic behavior in Drosophila are regulated by the Fruitless (Fru) and Doublesex (Dsx) transcription factors. Several direct targets of Dsx have been identified, but direct Fru targets have not been definitively identified. We show that Drosophila leucine-rich repeat G protein-coupled receptor 3 (Lgr3) is regulated by Fru and Dsx in separate populations of neurons. Lgr3 is a member of the relaxin-receptor family and a receptor for Dilp8, necessary for control of organ growth. Lgr3 expression in the anterior central brain of males is inhibited by the B isoform of Fru, whose DNA binding domain interacts with a short region of an Lgr3 intron. Fru A and C isoform mutants had no observed effect on Lgr3 expression. The female form of Dsx (Dsx(F)) separately up- and down-regulates Lgr3 expression in distinct neurons in the abdominal ganglion through female- and male-specific Lgr3 enhancers. Excitation of neural activity in the Dsx(F)-up-regulated abdominal ganglion neurons inhibits female receptivity, indicating the importance of these neurons for sexual behavior. Coordinated regulation of Lgr3 by Fru and Dsx marks a point of convergence of the two branches of the sex-determination hierarchy.

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    Jayaraman LabBaker Lab
    09/21/15 | Central neural circuitry mediating courtship song perception in male Drosophila.
    Zhou C, Franconville R, Vaughan AG, Robinett CC, Jayaraman V, Baker BS
    eLife. 2015 Sep 21;4:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.08477

    Animals use acoustic signals across a variety of social behaviors, particularly courtship. In Drosophila, song is detected by antennal mechanosensory neurons and further processed by second-order aPN1/aLN(al) neurons. However, little is known about the central pathways mediating courtship hearing. In this study, we identified a male-specific pathway for courtship hearing via third-order ventrolateral protocerebrum Projection Neuron 1 (vPN1) neurons and fourth-order pC1 neurons. Genetic inactivation of vPN1 or pC1 disrupts song-induced male-chaining behavior. Calcium imaging reveals that vPN1 responds preferentially to pulse song with long inter-pulse intervals (IPIs), while pC1 responses to pulse song closely match the behavioral chaining responses at different IPIs. Moreover, genetic activation of either vPN1 or pC1 induced courtship chaining, mimicking the behavioral response to song. These results outline the aPN1-vPN1-pC1 pathway as a labeled line for the processing and transformation of courtship song in males.

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    Baker Lab
    02/24/15 | Constraints on the evolution of a doublesex target gene arising from doublesex's pleiotropic deployment.
    Luo SD, Baker BS
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2015 Feb 24;112(8):E852-61. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1501192112

    "Regulatory evolution," that is, changes in a gene's expression pattern through changes at its regulatory sequence, rather than changes at the coding sequence of the gene or changes of the upstream transcription factors, has been increasingly recognized as a pervasive evolution mechanism. Many somatic sexually dimorphic features of Drosophila melanogaster are the results of gene expression regulated by the doublesex (dsx) gene, which encodes sex-specific transcription factors (DSX(F) in females and DSX(M) in males). Rapid changes in such sexually dimorphic features are likely a result of changes at the regulatory sequence of the target genes. We focused on the Flavin-containing monooxygenase-2 (Fmo-2) gene, a likely direct dsx target, to elucidate how sexually dimorphic expression and its evolution are brought about. We found that dsx is deployed to regulate the Fmo-2 transcription both in the midgut and in fat body cells of the spermatheca (a female-specific tissue), through a canonical DSX-binding site in the Fmo-2 regulatory sequence. In the melanogaster group, Fmo-2 transcription in the midgut has evolved rapidly, in contrast to the conserved spermathecal transcription. We identified two cis-regulatory modules (CRM-p and CRM-d) that direct sexually monomorphic or dimorphic Fmo-2 transcription, respectively, in the midguts of these species. Changes of Fmo-2 transcription in the midgut from sexually dimorphic to sexually monomorphic in some species are caused by the loss of CRM-d function, but not the loss of the canonical DSX-binding site. Thus, conferring transcriptional regulation on a CRM level allows the regulation to evolve rapidly in one tissue while evading evolutionary constraints posed by other tissues.

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    Baker Lab
    12/01/14 | The neuronal basis of how sexual experience modulates male aggression.
    Liang XH, Rao Y, Zhou C
    National Science Review. 2014 Dec ;1(4):473-4. doi: 10.1093/nsr/nwu059
    Baker Lab
    07/02/14 | Central brain neurons expressing doublesex regulate female receptivity in Drosophila.
    Zhou C, Pan Y, Robinett CC, Meissner GW, Baker BS
    Neuron. 2014 Jul 2;83(1):149-63. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.05.038

    Drosophila melanogaster females respond to male courtship by either rejecting the male or allowing copulation. The neural mechanisms underlying these female behaviors likely involve the integration of sensory information in the brain. Because doublesex (dsx) controls other aspects of female differentiation, we asked whether dsx-expressing neurons mediate virgin female receptivity to courting males. Using intersectional techniques to manipulate the activities of defined subsets of dsx-expressing neurons, we found that activation of neurons in either the pCd or pC1 clusters promotes receptivity, while silencing these neurons makes females unreceptive. Furthermore, pCd and pC1 neurons physiologically respond to the male-specific pheromone cis-vaccenyl acetate (cVA), while pC1 neurons also respond to male courtship song. The pCd and pC1 neurons expressing dsx in females do not express transcripts from the fruitless (fru) P1 promoter. Thus, virgin female receptivity is controlled at least in part by neurons that are distinct from those governing male courtship.

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    Baker Lab
    05/19/14 | Neural pathways for the detection and discrimination of conspecific song in D. melanogaster.
    Vaughan AG, Zhou C, Manoli DS, Baker BS
    Current Biology. 2014 May 19;24(10):1039-49. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.03.048

    BACKGROUND: During courtship, male Drosophila melanogaster sing a multipart courtship song to female flies. This song is of particular interest because (1) it is species specific and varies widely within the genus, (2) it is a gating stimulus for females, who are sensitive detectors of conspecific song, and (3) it is the only sexual signal that is under both neural and genetic control. This song is perceived via mechanosensory neurons in the antennal Johnston's organ, which innervate the antennal mechanosensory and motor center (AMMC) of the brain. However, AMMC outputs that are responsible for detection and discrimination of conspecific courtship song remain unknown.

    RESULTS: Using a large-scale anatomical screen of AMMC interneurons, we identify seven projection neurons (aPNs) and five local interneurons (aLNs) that outline a complex architecture for the ascending mechanosensory pathway. Neuronal inactivation and hyperactivation during behavior reveal that only two classes of interneurons are necessary for song responses--the projection neuron aPN1 and GABAergic interneuron aLN(al). These neurons are necessary in both male and female flies. Physiological recordings in aPN1 reveal the integration of courtship song as a function of pulse rate and outline an intracellular transfer function that likely facilitates the response to conspecific song.

    CONCLUSIONS: These results reveal a critical pathway for courtship hearing in male and female flies, in which both aLN(al) and aPN1 mediate the detection of conspecific song. The pathways arising from these neurons likely serve as a critical neural substrate for behavioral reproductive isolation in D. melanogaster.

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    Baker Lab
    04/16/14 | A small subset of fruitless subesophageal neurons modulate early courtship in Drosophila.
    Tran DH, Meissner GW, French RL, Baker BS
    PLoS One. 2014 Apr 16;9(4):e95472. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0095472

    We show that a small subset of two to six subesophageal neurons, expressing the male products of the male courtship master regulator gene products fruitlessMale (fruM), are required in the early stages of the Drosophila melanogaster male courtship behavioral program. Loss of fruM expression or inhibition of synaptic transmission in these fruM(+) neurons results in delayed courtship initiation and a failure to progress to copulation primarily under visually-deficient conditions. We identify a fruM-dependent sexually dimorphic arborization in the tritocerebrum made by two of these neurons. Furthermore, these SOG neurons extend descending projections to the thorax and abdominal ganglia. These anatomical and functional characteristics place these neurons in the position to integrate gustatory and higher-order signals in order to properly initiate and progress through early courtship.

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    Baker Lab
    01/16/14 | Genetic identification and separation of innate and experience-dependent courtship behaviors in Drosophila.
    Pan Y, Baker BS
    Cell. 2014 Jan 16;156(1-2):236-48. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2013.11.041

    Wild-type D. melanogaster males innately possess the ability to perform a multistep courtship ritual to conspecific females. The potential for this behavior is specified by the male-specific products of the fruitless (fru(M)) gene; males without fru(M) do not court females when held in isolation. We show that such fru(M) null males acquire the potential for courtship when grouped with other flies; they apparently learn to court flies with which they were grouped, irrespective of sex or species and retain this behavior for at least a week. The male-specific product of the doublesex gene (dsx(M)) is necessary and sufficient for the acquisition of the potential for such experience-dependent courtship. These results reveal a process that builds, via dsx(M) and social experience, the potential for a more flexible sexual behavior, which could be evolutionarily conserved as dsx-related genes that function in sexual development are found throughout the animal kingdom.

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