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70 Publications

Showing 1-10 of 70 results
01/08/18 | Neural substrates of navigational decision-making in Drosophila larva anemotaxis.
Jovanic T, Truman JW, Gershow M, Zlatic M
bioRxiv. 2018 Jan 08:244608. doi: 10.1101/244608

Small animals navigate in the environment as a function of varying sensory information in order to reach more favorable environmental conditions. To achieve this Drosophila larvae alternate periods of runs and turns in gradients of light, temperature, odors and CO2. While the sensory neurons that mediate the navigation behaviors in the different sensory gradients have been described, where and how are these navigational strategies are implemented in the central nervous system and controlled by neuronal circuit elements is not well known. Here we characterize for the first time the navigational strategies of Drosophila larvae in gradients of air-current speeds using high-throughput behavioral assays and quantitative behavioral analysis. We find that larvae extend runs when facing favorable conditions and increase turn rate when facing unfavorable direction, a strategy they use in other sensory modalities as well. By silencing the activity of individual neurons and very sparse expression patterns (2 or 3 neuron types), we further identify the sensory neurons and circuit elements in the ventral nerve cord and brain of the larva required for navigational decisions during anemotaxis. The phenotypes of these central neurons are consistent with a mechanism where the increase of the turning rate in unfavorable conditions and decrease in turning rate in favorable conditions are independently controlled.

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12/20/17 | Divergent connectivity of homologous command-like neurons mediates segment-specific touch responses in Drosophila.
Takagi S, Cocanougher BT, Niki S, Miyamoto D, Kohsaka H, Kazama H, Fetter RD, Truman JW, Zlatic M, Cardona A, Nose A
Neuron. 2017 Dec 20;96(6):1373-87. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.10.030

Animals adaptively respond to a tactile stimulus by choosing an ethologically relevant behavior depending on the location of the stimuli. Here, we investigate how somatosensory inputs on different body segments are linked to distinct motor outputs in Drosophila larvae. Larvae escape by backward locomotion when touched on the head, while they crawl forward when touched on the tail. We identify a class of segmentally repeated second-order somatosensory interneurons, that we named Wave, whose activation in anterior and posterior segments elicit backward and forward locomotion, respectively. Anterior and posterior Wave neurons extend their dendrites in opposite directions to receive somatosensory inputs from the head and tail, respectively. Downstream of anterior Wave neurons, we identify premotor circuits including the neuron A03a5, which together with Wave, is necessary for the backward locomotion touch response. Thus, Wave neurons match their receptive field to appropriate motor programs by participating in different circuits in different segments.

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11/10/17 | larvalign: Aligning gene expression patterns from the larval brain of Drosophila melanogaster.
Muenzing SE, Strauch M, Truman JW, Bühler K, Thum AS, Merhof D
Neuroinformatics. 2017 Nov 10:. doi: 10.1007/s12021-017-9349-6

The larval brain of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster is a small, tractable model system for neuroscience. Genes for fluorescent marker proteins can be expressed in defined, spatially restricted neuron populations. Here, we introduce the methods for 1) generating a standard template of the larval central nervous system (CNS), 2) spatial mapping of expression patterns from different larvae into a reference space defined by the standard template. We provide a manually annotated gold standard that serves for evaluation of the registration framework involved in template generation and mapping. A method for registration quality assessment enables the automatic detection of registration errors, and a semi-automatic registration method allows one to correct registrations, which is a prerequisite for a high-quality, curated database of expression patterns. All computational methods are available within the larvalign software package:

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08/09/17 | The complete connectome of a learning and memory centre in an insect brain.
Eichler K, Li F, Litwin-Kumar A, Park Y, Andrade I, Schneider-Mizell CM, Saumweber T, Huser A, Eschbach C, Gerber B, Fetter RD, Truman JW, Priebe CE, Abbott LF, Thum AS, Zlatic M, Cardona A
Nature. 2017 Aug 09;548(7666):175-182. doi: 10.1038/nature23455

Associating stimuli with positive or negative reinforcement is essential for survival, but a complete wiring diagram of a higher-order circuit supporting associative memory has not been previously available. Here we reconstruct one such circuit at synaptic resolution, the Drosophila larval mushroom body. We find that most Kenyon cells integrate random combinations of inputs but that a subset receives stereotyped inputs from single projection neurons. This organization maximizes performance of a model output neuron on a stimulus discrimination task. We also report a novel canonical circuit in each mushroom body compartment with previously unidentified connections: reciprocal Kenyon cell to modulatory neuron connections, modulatory neuron to output neuron connections, and a surprisingly high number of recurrent connections between Kenyon cells. Stereotyped connections found between output neurons could enhance the selection of learned behaviours. The complete circuit map of the mushroom body should guide future functional studies of this learning and memory centre.

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08/08/17 | Organization of the drosophila larval visual circuit.
Larderet I, Fritsch PM, Gendre N, Neagu-Maier GL, Fetter RD, Schneider-Mizell CM, Truman JW, Zlatic M, Cardona A, Sprecher SG
eLife. 2017 Aug 8:e28387. doi: 10.7554/eLife.28387

Visual systems transduce, process and transmit light-dependent environmental cues. Computation of visual features depends on photoreceptor neuron types (PR) present, organization of the eye and wiring of the underlying neural circuit. Here, we describe the circuit architecture of the visual system of Drosophila larvae by mapping the synaptic wiring diagram and neurotransmitters. By contacting different targets, the two larval PR-subtypes create two converging pathways potentially underlying the computation of ambient light intensity and temporal light changes already within this first visual processing center. Locally processed visual information then signals via dedicated projection interneurons to higher brain areas including the lateral horn and mushroom body. The stratified structure of the larval optic neuropil (LON) suggests common organizational principles with the adult fly and vertebrate visual systems. The complete synaptic wiring diagram of the LON paves the way to understanding how circuits with reduced numerical complexity control wide ranges of behaviors.

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07/01/17 | The Ol1mpiad: concordance of behavioural faculties of stage 1 and stage 3 Drosophila larvae.
Almeida-Carvalho MJ, Berh D, Braun A, Chen Y, Eichler K, Eschbach C, Fritsch PM, Gerber B, Hoyer N, Jiang X, Kleber J, Klämbt C, König C, Louis M, Michels B, Miroschnikow A, Mirth C, Miura D, Niewalda T, Otto N, Paisios E, Pankratz MJ, Petersen M, Ramsperger N, Randel N, Risse B, Saumweber T, Schlegel P, Schleyer M, Soba P, Sprecher SG, Tanimura T, Thum AS, Toshima N, Truman JW, Yarali A, Zlatic M
The Journal of Experimental Biology. 2017 Jul 01;220(Pt 13):2452-2475. doi: 10.1242/jeb.156646

Mapping brain function to brain structure is a fundamental task for neuroscience. For such an endeavour, the Drosophila larva is simple enough to be tractable, yet complex enough to be interesting. It features about 10,000 neurons and is capable of various taxes, kineses and Pavlovian conditioning. All its neurons are currently being mapped into a light-microscopical atlas, and Gal4 strains are being generated to experimentally access neurons one at a time. In addition, an electron microscopic reconstruction of its nervous system seems within reach. Notably, this electron microscope-based connectome is being drafted for a stage 1 larva - because stage 1 larvae are much smaller than stage 3 larvae. However, most behaviour analyses have been performed for stage 3 larvae because their larger size makes them easier to handle and observe. It is therefore warranted to either redo the electron microscopic reconstruction for a stage 3 larva or to survey the behavioural faculties of stage 1 larvae. We provide the latter. In a community-based approach we called the Ol1mpiad, we probed stage 1 Drosophila larvae for free locomotion, feeding, responsiveness to substrate vibration, gentle and nociceptive touch, burrowing, olfactory preference and thermotaxis, light avoidance, gustatory choice of various tastants plus odour-taste associative learning, as well as light/dark-electric shock associative learning. Quantitatively, stage 1 larvae show lower scores in most tasks, arguably because of their smaller size and lower speed. Qualitatively, however, stage 1 larvae perform strikingly similar to stage 3 larvae in almost all cases. These results bolster confidence in mapping brain structure and behaviour across developmental stages.

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Truman LabRiddiford Lab
05/18/17 | Genetic tools to study juvenile hormone action in Drosophila.
Baumann AA, Texada MJ, Chen H, Etheredge JN, Miller DL, Picard S, Warner RD, Truman JW, Riddiford LM
Scientific Reports. 2017 May 18;7:2132. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-02264-4

The insect juvenile hormone receptor is a basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH), Per-Arnt-Sim (PAS) domain protein, a novel type of hormone receptor. In higher flies like Drosophila, the ancestral receptor germ cell-expressed (gce) gene has duplicated to yield the paralog Methoprene-tolerant (Met). These paralogous receptors share redundant function during development but play unique roles in adults. Some aspects of JH function apparently require one receptor or the other. To provide a foundation for studying JH receptor function, we have recapitulated endogenous JH receptor expression with single cell resolution. Using Bacteria Artificial Chromosome (BAC) recombineering and a transgenic knock-in, we have generated a spatiotemporal expressional atlas of Metand gce throughout development. We demonstrate JH receptor expression in known JH target tissues, in which temporal expression corresponds with periods of hormone sensitivity. Larval expression largely supports the notion of functional redundancy. Furthermore, we provide the neuroanatomical distribution of JH receptors in both the larval and adult central nervous system, which will serve as a platform for future studies regarding JH action on insect behavior.

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04/26/17 | A systematic nomenclature for the Drosophila ventral nervous system.
Court RC, Armstrong JD, Borner J, Card GM, Costa M, Dickinson MH, Duch C, Korff W, Mann RS, Merritt D, Murphey RK, Namiki S, Seeds AM, Shepherd D, Shirangi TR, Simpson JH, Truman JW, Tuthill JC, Williams DW
bioRxiv. 2017 Apr 26:. doi: 10.1101/122952

Insect nervous systems are proven and powerful model systems for neuroscience research with wide relevance in biology and medicine. However, descriptions of insect brains have suffered from a lack of a complete and uniform nomenclature. Recognising this problem the Insect Brain Name Working Group produced the first agreed hierarchical nomenclature system for the adult insect brain, using Drosophila melanogaster as the reference framework, with other insect taxa considered to ensure greater consistency and expandability (Ito et al., 2014). Ito et al. (2014) purposely focused on the gnathal regions that account for approximately 50% of the adult CNS. We extend this nomenclature system to the sub-gnathal regions of the adult Drosophila nervous system to provide a nomenclature of the so-called ventral nervous system (VNS), which includes the thoracic and abdominal neuromeres that was not included in the original work and contains the neurons that play critical roles underpinning most fly behaviours.

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11/15/16 | Synaptic transmission parallels neuromodulation in a central food-intake circuit.
Schlegel P, Texada MJ, Miroschnikow A, Schoofs A, Hückesfeld S, Peters M, Schneider-Mizell CM, Lacin H, Li F, Fetter RD, Truman JW, Cardona A, Pankratz MJ
eLife. 2016 Nov 15:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.16799

NeuromedinU is a potent regulator of food intake and activity in mammals. In Drosophila, neurons producing the homologous neuropeptide hugin regulate feeding and locomotion in a similar manner. Here, we use EM-based reconstruction to generate the entire connectome of hugin-producing neurons in the Drosophila larval CNS. We demonstrate that hugin neurons use synaptic transmission in addition to peptidergic neuromodulation and identify acetylcholine as a key transmitter. Hugin neuropeptide and acetylcholine are both necessary for the regulatory effect on feeding. We further show that subtypes of hugin neurons connect chemosensory to endocrine system by combinations of synaptic and peptide-receptor connections. Targets include endocrine neurons producing DH44, a CRH-like peptide, and insulin-like peptides. Homologs of these peptides are likewise downstream of neuromedinU, revealing striking parallels in flies and mammals. We propose that hugin neurons are part of an ancient physiological control system that has been conserved at functional and molecular level.

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10/05/16 | Competitive disinhibition mediates behavioral choice and sequences in Drosophila.
Jovanic T, Schneider-Mizell CM, Shao M, Masson J, Denisov G, Fetter RD, Mensh BD, Truman JW, Cardona A, Zlatic M
Cell. 2016 Oct 5;167(3):858-70. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.09.009

Even a simple sensory stimulus can elicit distinct innate behaviors and sequences. During sensorimotor decisions, competitive interactions among neurons that promote distinct behaviors must ensure the selection and maintenance of one behavior, while suppressing others. The circuit implementation of these competitive interactions is still an open question. By combining comprehensive electron microscopy reconstruction of inhibitory interneuron networks, modeling, electrophysiology, and behavioral studies, we determined the circuit mechanisms that contribute to the Drosophila larval sensorimotor decision to startle, explore, or perform a sequence of the two in response to a mechanosensory stimulus. Together, these studies reveal that, early in sensory processing, (1) reciprocally connected feedforward inhibitory interneurons implement behavioral choice, (2) local feedback disinhibition provides positive feedback that consolidates and maintains the chosen behavior, and (3) lateral disinhibition promotes sequence transitions. The combination of these interconnected circuit motifs can implement both behavior selection and the serial organization of behaviors into a sequence.

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