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132 Publications

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    04/13/10 | Visual targeting of motor actions in climbing Drosophila.
    Triphan T, Poeck B, Neuser K, Strauss R
    Current Biology. 2010 Apr 13;20(7):663-8. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2010.02.055

    Drosophila melanogaster flies cross surmountable gaps in their walkway of widths exceeding their body length with an astounding maneuver but avoid attempts at insurmountable gaps by visual width estimation. Different mutant lines affect specific aspects of this maneuver, indicating a high complexity and modularity of the underlying motor control. Here we report on two mutants, ocelliless(1) and tay bridge(1), that, although making a correct decision to climb, fail dramatically in aiming at the right direction. Both mutants show structural defects in the protocerebral bridge, a central complex neuropil formed like a handlebar spanning the brain hemispheres. The bridge has been implicated in step-length control in walking flies and celestial E-vector orientation in locusts. In rescue experiments using tay bridge(1) flies, the integrity of the bridge was reestablished, concomitantly leading to a significant improvement of their orientation at the gap. Although producing directional scatter, their attempts were clearly aimed at the landing site. However, this partial rescue was lost in these flies at a reduced-visibility landing site. We therefore conclude that the protocerebral bridge is an essential part of a visual targeting network that transmits directional clues to the motor output via a known projection system.

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    03/09/10 | Appetitive and aversive visual learning in freely moving Drosophila.
    Schnaitmann C, Vogt K, Triphan T, Tanimoto H
    Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. 2010 Mar 9;4:10. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2010.00010

    To compare appetitive and aversive visual memories of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, we developed a new paradigm for classical conditioning. Adult flies are trained en masse to differentially associate one of two visual conditioned stimuli (CS) (blue and green light as CS) with an appetitive or aversive chemical substance (unconditioned stimulus or US). In a test phase, flies are given a choice between the paired and the unpaired visual stimuli. Associative memory is measured based on altered visual preference in the test. If a group of flies has, for example, received a sugar reward with green light in the training, they show a significantly higher preference for the green stimulus during the test than another group of flies having received the same reward with blue light. We demonstrate critical parameters for the formation of visual appetitive memory, such as training repetition, order of reinforcement, starvation, and individual conditioning. Furthermore, we show that formic acid can act as an aversive chemical reinforcer, yielding weak, yet significant, aversive memory. These results provide a basis for future investigations into the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying visual memory and perception in Drosophila.

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    01/01/10 | Anatomic analysis of Gal4 expression patterns of the Rubin line collection: the central complex.
    Jenett A, Wolff T, Nern A, Pfeiffer BD, Ngo T, Murphy C, Long F, Peng H, Rubin GM
    Journal of Neurogenetics. 2010;24:71-2
    08/01/09 | A Drosophila resource of transgenic RNAi lines for neurogenetics.
    Ni J, Liu L, Binari R, Hardy R, Shim H, Cavallaro A, Booker M, Pfeiffer BD, Markstein M, Wang H, Villalta C, Laverty TR, Perkins LA, Perrimon N
    Genetics. 2009 Aug;182(4):1089-100. doi: 10.1534/genetics.109.103630

    Conditional expression of hairpin constructs in Drosophila is a powerful method to disrupt the activity of single genes with a spatial and temporal resolution that is impossible, or exceedingly difficult, using classical genetic methods. We previously described a method (Ni et al. 2008) whereby RNAi constructs are targeted into the genome by the phiC31-mediated integration approach using Vermilion-AttB-Loxp-Intron-UAS-MCS (VALIUM), a vector that contains vermilion as a selectable marker, an attB sequence to allow for phiC31-targeted integration at genomic attP landing sites, two pentamers of UAS, the hsp70 core promoter, a multiple cloning site, and two introns. As the level of gene activity knockdown associated with transgenic RNAi depends on the level of expression of the hairpin constructs, we generated a number of derivatives of our initial vector, called the "VALIUM" series, to improve the efficiency of the method. Here, we report the results from the systematic analysis of these derivatives and characterize VALIUM10 as the most optimal vector of this series. A critical feature of VALIUM10 is the presence of gypsy insulator sequences that boost dramatically the level of knockdown. We document the efficacy of VALIUM as a vector to analyze the phenotype of genes expressed in the nervous system and have generated a library of 2282 constructs targeting 2043 genes that will be particularly useful for studies of the nervous system as they target, in particular, transcription factors, ion channels, and transporters.

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    02/01/09 | Neurotoxic effects induced by the Drosophila amyloid-beta peptide suggest a conserved toxic function.
    Carmine-Simmen K, Proctor T, Tschäpe J, Poeck B, Triphan T, Strauss R, Kretzschmar D
    Neurobiology of Disease. 2009 Feb;33(2):274-81. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2008.10.014

    The accumulation of amyloid-beta (Abeta) into plaques is a hallmark feature of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). While amyloid precursor protein (APP)-related proteins are found in most organisms, only Abeta fragments from human APP have been shown to induce amyloid deposits and progressive neurodegeneration. Therefore, it was suggested that neurotoxic effects are a specific property of human Abeta. Here we show that Abeta fragments derived from the Drosophila orthologue APPL aggregate into intracellular fibrils, amyloid deposits, and cause age-dependent behavioral deficits and neurodegeneration. We also show that APPL can be cleaved by a novel fly beta-secretase-like enzyme. This suggests that Abeta-induced neurotoxicity is a conserved function of APP proteins whereby the lack of conservation in the primary sequence indicates that secondary structural aspects determine their pathogenesis. In addition, we found that the behavioral phenotypes precede extracellular amyloid deposit formation, supporting results that intracellular Abeta plays a key role in AD.

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    07/15/08 | Tools for neuroanatomy and neurogenetics in Drosophila.
    Pfeiffer BD, Jenett A, Hammonds AS, Ngo TB, Misra S, Murphy C, Scully A, Carlson JW, Wan KH, Laverty TR, Mungall C, Svirskas R, Kadonaga JT, Doe CQ, Eisen MB, Celniker SE, Rubin GM
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2008 Jul 15;105:9715-20. doi:

    We demonstrate the feasibility of generating thousands of transgenic Drosophila melanogaster lines in which the expression of an exogenous gene is reproducibly directed to distinct small subsets of cells in the adult brain. We expect the expression patterns produced by the collection of 5,000 lines that we are currently generating to encompass all neurons in the brain in a variety of intersecting patterns. Overlapping 3-kb DNA fragments from the flanking noncoding and intronic regions of genes thought to have patterned expression in the adult brain were inserted into a defined genomic location by site-specific recombination. These fragments were then assayed for their ability to function as transcriptional enhancers in conjunction with a synthetic core promoter designed to work with a wide variety of enhancer types. An analysis of 44 fragments from four genes found that >80% drive expression patterns in the brain; the observed patterns were, on average, comprised of <100 cells. Our results suggest that the D. melanogaster genome contains >50,000 enhancers and that multiple enhancers drive distinct subsets of expression of a gene in each tissue and developmental stage. We expect that these lines will be valuable tools for neuroanatomy as well as for the elucidation of neuronal circuits and information flow in the fly brain.

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    07/01/08 | Locomotor control by the central complex in Drosophila-an analysis of the tay bridge mutant.
    Poeck B, Triphan T, Neuser K, Strauss R
    Developmental Neurobiology. 2008 Jul;68(8):1046-58. doi: 10.1002/dneu.20643

    Several aspects of locomotor control have been ascribed to the central complex of the insect brain; however, the role of distinct substructures of this complex is not well known. The tay bridge1 (tay1) mutant of Drosophila melanogaster was originally isolated on the basis of reduced walking speed and activity. In addition, tay1 is defective in the compensation of rotatory stimuli during walking and histologically, tay1 causes a mid-sagittal constriction of the protocerebral bridge, a constituent of the central complex. Cloning of the tay gene revealed that it encodes a novel protein with no significant homology to any known protein. To associate the behavioral phenotypes with the anatomical defect in the protocerebral bridge, we used different driver lines to express the tay cDNA in various neuronal subpopulations of the central brain in tay1-mutant flies. These experiments showed an association of the aberrant walking speed and activity with the structural defect in the protocerebral bridge. In contrast, the compensation of rotatory stimuli during walking was rescued without a restoration of the protocerebral bridge. The results of our differential rescue approach are supported by neuronal silencing experiments using conditional tetanus toxin expression in the same subset of neurons. These findings show for the first time that the walking speed and activity is controlled by different substructures of the central brain than the compensatory locomotion for rotatory stimuli.

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    06/26/08 | Analysis of a spatial orientation memory in Drosophila.
    Neuser K, Triphan T, Mronz M, Poeck B, Strauss R
    Nature. 2008 Jun 26;453(7199):1244-7. doi: 10.1038/nature07003

    Flexible goal-driven orientation requires that the position of a target be stored, especially in case the target moves out of sight. The capability to retain, recall and integrate such positional information into guiding behaviour has been summarized under the term spatial working memory. This kind of memory contains specific details of the presence that are not necessarily part of a long-term memory. Neurophysiological studies in primates indicate that sustained activity of neurons encodes the sensory information even though the object is no longer present. Furthermore they suggest that dopamine transmits the respective input to the prefrontal cortex, and simultaneous suppression by GABA spatially restricts this neuronal activity. Here we show that Drosophila melanogaster possesses a similar spatial memory during locomotion. Using a new detour setup, we show that flies can remember the position of an object for several seconds after it has been removed from their environment. In this setup, flies are temporarily lured away from the direction towards their hidden target, yet they are thereafter able to aim for their former target. Furthermore, we find that the GABAergic (stainable with antibodies against GABA) ring neurons of the ellipsoid body in the central brain are necessary and their plasticity is sufficient for a functional spatial orientation memory in flies. We also find that the protein kinase S6KII (ignorant) is required in a distinct subset of ring neurons to display this memory. Conditional expression of S6KII in these neurons only in adults can restore the loss of the orientation memory of the ignorant mutant. The S6KII signalling pathway therefore seems to be acutely required in the ring neurons for spatial orientation memory in flies.

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    01/01/08 | Vector and parameters for targeted transgenic RNA interference in Drosophila melanogaster.
    Ni J, Markstein M, Binari R, Pfeiffer B, Liu L, Villalta C, Booker M, Perkins L, Perrimon N
    Nature Methods. 2008 Jan;5(1):49-51. doi: 10.1038/nmeth1146

    The conditional expression of hairpin constructs in Drosophila melanogaster has emerged in recent years as a method of choice in functional genomic studies. To date, upstream activating site-driven RNA interference constructs have been inserted into the genome randomly using P-element-mediated transformation, which can result in false negatives due to variable expression. To avoid this problem, we have developed a transgenic RNA interference vector based on the phiC31 site-specific integration method.

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    07/23/07 | Global analysis of patterns of gene expression during Drosophila embryogenesis.
    Tomancak P, Berman BP, Beaton A, Weiszmann R, Kwan E, Hartenstein V, Celniker SE, Rubin GM
    Genome Biology. 2007 July 23;8(7):R145. doi: 10.1186/gb-2007-8-7-r145

    Cell and tissue specific gene expression is a defining feature of embryonic development in multi-cellular organisms. However, the range of gene expression patterns, the extent of the correlation of expression with function, and the classes of genes whose spatial expression are tightly regulated have been unclear due to the lack of an unbiased, genome-wide survey of gene expression patterns.

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