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94 Publications

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    07/01/03 | Mechanism of hedgehog signaling during Drosophila eye development.
    Pappu KS, Chen R, Middlebrooks BW, Woo C, Heberlein U, Mardon G
    Development. 2003 Jul;130(13):3053-62

    Although Hedgehog (Hh) signaling is essential for morphogenesis of the Drosophila eye, its exact link to the network of tissue-specific genes that regulate retinal determination has remained elusive. In this report, we demonstrate that the retinal determination gene eyes absent (eya) is the crucial link between the Hedgehog signaling pathway and photoreceptor differentiation. Specifically, we show that the mechanism by which Hh signaling controls initiation of photoreceptor differentiation is to alleviate repression of eya and decapentaplegic (dpp) expression by the zinc-finger transcription factor Cubitus interruptus (Ci(rep)). Furthermore, our results suggest that stabilized, full length Ci (Ci(act)) plays little or no role in Drosophila eye development. Moreover, while the effects of Hh are primarily concentration dependent in other tissues, hh signaling in the eye acts as a binary switch to initiate retinal morphogenesis by inducing expression of the tissue-specific factor Eya.

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    01/01/03 | Drosophila melanogaster, a genetic model system for alcohol research.
    Guarnieri DJ, Heberlein U
    International Review of Neurobiology. 2003;54:199-228

    In its natural environment, which consists of fermenting plant materials, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster encounters high levels of ethanol. Flies are well equipped to deal with the toxic effects of ethanol; they use it as an energy source and for lipid biosynthesis. The primary ethanol-metabolizing pathway in flies involves the enzymes alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and acetaldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH); their role in adaptation to ethanol-rich environments has been studied extensively. The similarity between Drosophila and mammals is not restricted to the manner in which they metabolize ethanol; behaviors elicited by ethanol exposure are also remarkably similar in these organisms. Flies show signs of acute intoxication, which range from locomotor stimulation at low doses to complete sedation at higher doses, they develop tolerance upon intermittent ethanol exposure, and they appear to like ethanol, showing preference for ethanol-containing media. Molecular genetic analysis of ethanol-induced behaviors in Drosophila, while still in its early stages, has already revealed some surprising parallels with mammals. The availability of powerful tools for genetic manipulation in Drosophila, together with the high degree of conservation at the genomic level, make Drosophila a promising model organism to study the mechanism by which ethanol regulates behavior and the mechanisms underlying the organism's adaptation to long-term ethanol exposure.

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    01/01/03 | Invertebrate models of drug abuse.
    Wolf FW, Heberlein U
    Journal of Neurobiology. 2003 Jan;54(1):161-78. doi: 10.1002/neu.10166

    Susceptibility to drug addiction depends on genetic and environmental factors and their complex interactions. Studies with mammalian models have identified molecular targets, neurochemical systems, and brain regions that mediate some of the addictive properties of abused drugs. Yet, our understanding of how the primary effects of drugs lead to addiction remains incomplete. Recently, researchers have turned to the invertebrate model systems Drosophila melanogaster and Caenorhabditis elegans to dissect the mechanisms by which abused drugs modulate behavior. Due to their sophisticated genetics, relatively simple anatomy, and their remarkable molecular similarity to mammals, these invertebrate models should provide useful insights into the mechanisms of drug action. Here we review recent behavioral and genetic studies in flies and worms on the effects of ethanol, cocaine, and nicotine, three of the most widely abused drugs in the world.

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    12/15/02 | High-resolution analysis of ethanol-induced locomotor stimulation in Drosophila.
    Wolf FW, Rodan AR, Tsai LT, Heberlein U
    The Journal of Neuroscience: The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 2002 Dec 15;22(24):11035-44

    Understanding how ethanol influences behavior is key to deciphering the mechanisms of ethanol action and alcoholism. In mammals, low doses of ethanol stimulate locomotion, whereas high doses depress it. The acute stimulant effect of ethanol has been proposed to be a manifestation of its rewarding effects. In Drosophila, ethanol exposure transiently potentiates locomotor activity in a biphasic dose- and time-dependent manner. An initial short-lived peak of activity corresponds to an olfactory response to ethanol. A second, longer-lasting period of increased activity coincides with rising internal ethanol concentrations; these closely parallel concentrations that stimulate locomotion in mammals. High-resolution analysis of the walking pattern of individual flies revealed that locomotion consists of bouts of activity; bout structure can be quantified by bout frequency, bout length, and the time spent walking at high speeds. Ethanol exposure induces both dramatic and dynamic changes in bout structure. Mutants with increased ethanol sensitivity show distinct changes in ethanol-induced locomotor behavior, as well as genotype-specific changes in activity bout structure. Thus, the overall effect of ethanol on locomotor behavior in Drosophila is caused by changes in discrete quantifiable parameters of walking pattern. The effects of ethanol on locomotion are comparable in flies and mammals, suggesting that Drosophila is a suitable model system to study the underlying mechanisms.

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    12/01/02 | Drugs, flies, and videotape: the effects of ethanol and cocaine on Drosophila locomotion.
    Rothenfluh A, Heberlein U
    Current Opinion in Neurobiology. 2002 Dec;12(6):639-45

    Drosophila melanogaster has been introduced recently as a model organism in which to study the mechanisms by which drugs of abuse change behavior and by which the nervous system changes upon repeated drug exposure. Surprising similarities between flies and mammals have begun to emerge at the behavioral, neurochemical and molecular levels.

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    11/01/02 | Functional dissection of neuroanatomical loci regulating ethanol sensitivity in Drosophila.
    Rodan AR, Kiger JA, Heberlein U
    The Journal of Neuroscience: The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 2002 Nov 1;22(21):9490-501

    Ethanol has complex but similar effects on behavior in mammals and the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. In addition, genetic and pharmacological approaches have implicated the cAMP pathway in the regulation of ethanol-induced behaviors in both flies and rodents. Here we examine the neuroanatomical loci that modulate ethanol sensitivity in Drosophila by targeting the expression of an inhibitor of cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA) to specific regions in the fly’s brain. Expression of the inhibitor in most brain regions or in muscle has no effect on behavior. In contrast, inhibition of PKA in a relatively small number of cells, possibly neurosecretory cells, in the fly’s brain is sufficient to decrease sensitivity to the incoordinating effects of ethanol. Additional brain areas are, however, also involved. The mushroom bodies, brain structures where cAMP signaling is required for olfactory classical conditioning, are dispensable for the regulation of ethanol sensitivity. Finally, different behavioral effects of ethanol, motor incoordination and sedation, appear to be regulated by PKA function in distinct brain regions. We conclude that the regulation of ethanol-induced behaviors by PKA involves complex interactions among groups of cells that mediate either increased or reduced sensitivity to the acute intoxicating effects of ethanol.

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    02/01/02 | Rough eye is a gain-of-function allele of amos that disrupts regulation of the proneural gene atonal during Drosophila retinal differentiation.
    Chanut F, Woo K, Pereira S, Donohoe TJ, Chang S, Laverty TR, Jarman AP, Heberlein U
    Genetics. 2002 Feb;160(2):623-35

    The regular organization of the ommatidial lattice in the Drosophila eye originates in the precise regulation of the proneural gene atonal (ato), which is responsible for the specification of the ommatidial founder cells R8. Here we show that Rough eye (Roi), a dominant mutation manifested by severe roughening of the adult eye surface, causes defects in ommatidial assembly and ommatidial spacing. The ommatidial spacing defect can be ascribed to the irregular distribution of R8 cells caused by a disruption of the patterning of ato expression. Disruptions in the recruitment of other photoreceptors and excess Hedgehog production in differentiating cells may further contribute to the defects in ommatidial assembly. Our molecular characterization of the Roi locus demonstrates that it is a gain-of-function mutation of the bHLH gene amos that results from a chromosomal inversion. We show that Roi can rescue the retinal developmental defect of ato1 mutants and speculate that amos substitutes for some of ato's function in the eye or activates a residual function of the ato1 allele.

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    06/15/01 | Drosophila fasciclinII is required for the formation of odor memories and for normal sensitivity to alcohol.
    Cheng Y, Endo K, Wu K, Rodan AR, Heberlein U, Davis RL
    Cell. 2001 Jun 15;105(6):757-68

    Drosophila fasciclinII (fasII) mutants perform poorly after olfactory conditioning due to a defect in encoding, stabilizing, or retrieving short-term memories. Performance was rescued by inducing the expression of a normal transgene just before training and immediate testing. Induction after training but before testing failed to rescue performance, showing that Fas II does not have an exclusive role in memory retrieval processes. The stability of odor memories in fasII mutants are indistinguishable from control animals when initial performance is normalized. Like several other mutants deficient in odor learning, fasII mutants exhibit a heightened sensitivity to ethanol vapors. A combination of behavioral and genetic strategies have therefore revealed a role for Fas II in the molecular operations of encoding short-term odor memories and conferring alcohol sensitivity. The preferential expression of Fas II in the axons of mushroom body neurons furthermore suggests that short-term odor memories are formed in these neurites.

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    ro(Dom) is a dominant allele of rough (ro) that results in reduced eye size due to premature arrest in morphogenetic furrow (MF) progression. We found that the ro(Dom) stop-furrow phenotype was sensitive to the dosage of genes known to affect retinal differentiation, in particular members of the hedgehog (hh) signaling cascade. We demonstrate that ro(Dom) interferes with Hh's ability to induce the retina-specific proneural gene atonal (ato) in the MF and that normal eye size can be restored by providing excess Ato protein. We used ro(Dom) as a sensitive genetic background in which to identify mutations that affect hh signal transduction or regulation of ato expression. In addition to mutations in several unknown loci, we recovered multiple alleles of groucho (gro) and Hairless (H). Analysis of their phenotypes in somatic clones suggests that both normally act to restrict neuronal cell fate in the retina, although they control different aspects of ato's complex expression pattern.

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    10/01/00 | Functional ethanol tolerance in Drosophila.
    Scholz H, Ramond J, Singh CM, Heberlein U
    Neuron. 2000 Oct;28:261-71

    In humans, repeated alcohol consumption leads to the development of tolerance, manifested as a reduced physiological and behavioral response to a particular dose of alcohol. Here we show that adult Drosophila develop tolerance to the sedating and motor-impairing effects of ethanol with kinetics of acquisition and dissipation that mimic those seen in mammals. Importantly, this tolerance is not caused by changes in ethanol absorption or metabolism. Rather, the development of tolerance requires the functional and structural integrity of specific central brain regions. Mutants unable to synthesize the catecholamine octopamine are also impaired in their ability to develop tolerance. Taken together, these data show that Drosophila is a suitable model system in which to study the molecular and neuroanatomical bases of ethanol tolerance.

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