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46 Publications

Showing 1-10 of 46 results
01/10/24 | A split-GAL4 driver line resource for Drosophila CNS cell types
Geoffrey W Meissner , Allison Vannan , Jennifer Jeter , Kari Close , Gina M DePasquale , Zachary Dorman , Kaitlyn Forster , Jaye Anne Beringer , Theresa V Gibney , Joanna H Hausenfluck , Yisheng He , Kristin Henderson , Lauren Johnson , Rebecca M Johnston , Gudrun Ihrke , Nirmala Iyer , Rachel Lazarus , Kelley Lee , Hsing-Hsi Li , Hua-Peng Liaw , Brian Melton , Scott Miller , Reeham Motaher , Alexandra Novak , Omotara Ogundeyi , Alyson Petruncio , Jacquelyn Price , Sophia Protopapas , Susana Tae , Jennifer Taylor , Rebecca Vorimo , Brianna Yarbrough , Kevin Xiankun Zeng , Christopher T Zugates , Heather Dionne , Claire Angstadt , Kelly Ashley , Amanda Cavallaro , Tam Dang , Guillermo A Gonzalez III , Karen L Hibbard , Cuizhen Huang , Jui-Chun Kao , Todd Laverty , Monti Mercer , Brenda Perez , Scarlett Pitts , Danielle Ruiz , Viruthika Vallanadu , Grace Zhiyu Zheng , Cristian Goina , Hideo Otsuna , Konrad Rokicki , Robert R Svirskas , Han SJ Cheong , Michael-John Dolan , Erica Ehrhardt , Kai Feng , Basel El Galfi , Jens Goldammer , Stephen J Huston , Nan Hu , Masayoshi Ito , Claire McKellar , Ryo Minegishi , Shigehiro Namiki , Aljoscha Nern , Catherine E Schretter , Gabriella R Sterne , Lalanti Venkatasubramanian , Kaiyu Wang , Tanya Wolff , Ming Wu , Reed George , Oz Malkesman , Yoshinori Aso , Gwyneth M Card , Barry J Dickson , Wyatt Korff , Kei Ito , James W Truman , Marta Zlatic , Gerald M Rubin , FlyLight Project Team
bioRxiv. 2024 Jan 10:. doi: 10.1101/2024.01.09.574419

Techniques that enable precise manipulations of subsets of neurons in the fly central nervous system have greatly facilitated our understanding of the neural basis of behavior. Split-GAL4 driver lines allow specific targeting of cell types in Drosophila melanogaster and other species. We describe here a collection of 3060 lines targeting a range of cell types in the adult Drosophila central nervous system and 1373 lines characterized in third-instar larvae. These tools enable functional, transcriptomic, and proteomic studies based on precise anatomical targeting. NeuronBridge and other search tools relate light microscopy images of these split-GAL4 lines to connectomes reconstructed from electron microscopy images. The collections are the result of screening over 77,000 split hemidriver combinations. In addition to images and fly stocks for these well-characterized lines, we make available 300,000 new 3D images of other split-GAL4 lines.

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03/15/24 | NeuronBridge: an intuitive web application for neuronal morphology search across large data sets
Jody Clements , Cristian Goina , Philip M. Hubbard , Takashi Kawase , Donald J. Olbris , Hideo Otsuna , Robert Svirskas , Konrad Rokicki
BMC Bioinformatics. 2024 Mar 15;25:114. doi: 10.1186/s12859-024-05732-7


Neuroscience research in Drosophila is benefiting from large-scale connectomics efforts using electron microscopy (EM) to reveal all the neurons in a brain and their connections. To exploit this knowledge base, researchers relate a connectome’s structure to neuronal function, often by studying individual neuron cell types. Vast libraries of fly driver lines expressing fluorescent reporter genes in sets of neurons have been created and imaged using confocal light microscopy (LM), enabling the targeting of neurons for experimentation. However, creating a fly line for driving gene expression within a single neuron found in an EM connectome remains a challenge, as it typically requires identifying a pair of driver lines where only the neuron of interest is expressed in both. This task and other emerging scientific workflows require finding similar neurons across large data sets imaged using different modalities.


Here, we present NeuronBridge, a web application for easily and rapidly finding putative morphological matches between large data sets of neurons imaged using different modalities. We describe the functionality and construction of the NeuronBridge service, including its user-friendly graphical user interface (GUI), extensible data model, serverless cloud architecture, and massively parallel image search engine.


NeuronBridge fills a critical gap in the Drosophila research workflow and is used by hundreds of neuroscience researchers around the world. We offer our software code, open APIs, and processed data sets for integration and reuse, and provide the application as a service at

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02/26/24 | Nested neural circuits generate distinct acoustic signals during Drosophila courtship
Joshua L. Lillvis , Kaiyu Wang , Hiroshi M. Shiozaki , Min Xu , David L. Stern , Barry J. Dickson
Current Biology. 2024 Feb 26;34(4):808-24. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2024.01.015

Many motor control systems generate multiple movements using a common set of muscles. How are premotor circuits able to flexibly generate diverse movement patterns? Here, we characterize the neuronal circuits that drive the distinct courtship songs of Drosophila melanogaster. Male flies vibrate their wings towards females to produce two different song modes – pulse and sine song – which signal species identity and male quality. Using cell-type specific genetic reagents and the connectome, we provide a cellular and synaptic map of the circuits in the male ventral nerve cord that generate these songs and examine how activating or inhibiting each cell type within these circuits affects the song. Our data reveal that the song circuit is organized into two nested feed-forward pathways, with extensive reciprocal and feed-back connections. The larger network produces pulse song, the more complex and ancestral song form. A subset of this network produces sine song, the simpler and more recent form. Such nested organization may be a common feature of motor control circuits in which evolution has layered increasing flexibility on to a basic movement pattern.

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01/25/24 | New genetic tools for mushroom body output neurons in Drosophila
Rubin GM, Aso Y
eLife. 2024 Jan 24:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.90523

How memories of past events influence behavior is a key question in neuroscience. The major associative learning center in Drosophila, the Mushroom Body (MB), communicates to the rest of the brain through Mushroom Body Output Neurons (MBONs). While 21 MBON cell types have their dendrites confined to small compartments of the MB lobes, analysis of EM connectomes revealed the presence of an additional 14 MBON cell types that are atypical in having dendritic input both within the MB lobes and in adjacent brain regions. Genetic reagents for manipulating atypical MBONs and experimental data on their functions has been lacking. In this report we describe new cell-type-specific GAL4 drivers for many MBONs, including the majority of atypical MBONs. Using these genetic reagents, we conducted optogenetic activation screening to examine their ability to drive behaviors and learning. These reagents provide important new tools for the study of complex behaviors in Drosophila.

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10/17/23 | A comprehensive neuroanatomical survey of the Drosophila Lobula Plate Tangential Neurons with predictions for their optic flow sensitivity.
Arthur Zhao , Aljoscha Nern , Sanna Koskela , Marisa Dreher , Mert Erginkaya , Connor W Laughland , Henrique DF Ludwig , Alex G Thomson , Judith Hoeller , Ruchi Parekh , Sandro Romani , Davi D Bock , Eugenia Chiappe , Michael B Reiser
bioRxiv. 2023 Oct 17:. doi: 10.1101/2023.10.16.562634

Flying insects exhibit remarkable navigational abilities controlled by their compact nervous systems. Optic flow, the pattern of changes in the visual scene induced by locomotion, is a crucial sensory cue for robust self-motion estimation, especially during rapid flight. Neurons that respond to specific, large-field optic flow patterns have been studied for decades, primarily in large flies, such as houseflies, blowflies, and hover flies. The best-known optic-flow sensitive neurons are the large tangential cells of the dipteran lobula plate, whose visual-motion responses, and to a lesser extent, their morphology, have been explored using single-neuron neurophysiology. Most of these studies have focused on the large, Horizontal and Vertical System neurons, yet the lobula plate houses a much larger set of 'optic-flow' sensitive neurons, many of which have been challenging to unambiguously identify or to reliably target for functional studies. Here we report the comprehensive reconstruction and identification of the Lobula Plate Tangential Neurons in an Electron Microscopy (EM) volume of a whole Drosophila brain. This catalog of 58 LPT neurons (per brain hemisphere) contains many neurons that are described here for the first time and provides a basis for systematic investigation of the circuitry linking self-motion to locomotion control. Leveraging computational anatomy methods, we estimated the visual motion receptive fields of these neurons and compared their tuning to the visual consequence of body rotations and translational movements. We also matched these neurons, in most cases on a one-for-one basis, to stochastically labeled cells in genetic driver lines, to the mirror-symmetric neurons in the same EM brain volume, and to neurons in an additional EM data set. Using cell matches across data sets, we analyzed the integration of optic flow patterns by neurons downstream of the LPTs and find that most central brain neurons establish sharper selectivity for global optic flow patterns than their input neurons. Furthermore, we found that self-motion information extracted from optic flow is processed in distinct regions of the central brain, pointing to diverse foci for the generation of visual behaviors.

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09/18/23 | Neural circuit mechanisms for transforming learned olfactory valences into wind-oriented movement
Yoshinori Aso , Daichi Yamada , Daniel Bushey , Karen Hibbard , Megan Sammons , Hideo Otsuna , Yichun Shuai , Toshihide Hige
eLife. 2023 Sep 18:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.85756

How memories are used by the brain to guide future action is poorly understood. In olfactory associative learning in Drosophila, multiple compartments of the mushroom body act in parallel to assign valence to a stimulus. Here, we show that appetitive memories stored in different compartments induce different levels of upwind locomotion. Using a photoactivation screen of a new collection of split-GAL4 drivers and EM connectomics, we identified a cluster of neurons postsynaptic to the mushroom body output neurons (MBONs) that can trigger robust upwind steering. These UpWind Neurons (UpWiNs) integrate inhibitory and excitatory synaptic inputs from MBONs of appetitive and aversive memory compartments, respectively. After training, disinhibition from the appetitive-memory MBONs enhances the response of UpWiNs to reward-predicting odors. Blocking UpWiNs impaired appetitive memory and reduced upwind locomotion during retrieval. Photoactivation of UpWiNs also increased the chance of returning to a location where activation was initiated, suggesting an additional role in olfactory navigation. Thus, our results provide insight into how learned abstract valences are gradually transformed into concrete memory-driven actions through divergent and convergent networks, a neuronal architecture that is commonly found in the vertebrate and invertebrate brains.

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09/16/23 | Driver lines for studying associative learning in Drosophila
Yichun Shuai , Megan Sammons , Gabriella Sterne , Karen Hibbard , He Yang , Ching-Po Yang , Claire Managan , Igor Siwanowicz , Tzumin Lee , Gerald M. Rubin , Glenn Turner , Yoshinori Aso
bioRxiv. 2023 Sep 16:. doi: 10.1101/2023.09.15.557808

The mushroom body (MB) is the center for associative learning in insects. In Drosophila, intersectional split-GAL4 drivers and electron microscopy (EM) connectomes have laid the foundation for precise interrogation of the MB neural circuits. However, many cell types upstream and downstream of the MB remained to be investigated due to lack of driver lines. Here we describe a new collection of over 800 split-GAL4 and split-LexA drivers that cover approximately 300 cell types, including sugar sensory neurons, putative nociceptive ascending neurons, olfactory and thermo-/hygro-sensory projection neurons, interneurons connected with the MB-extrinsic neurons, and various other cell types. We characterized activation phenotypes for a subset of these lines and identified the sugar sensory neuron line most suitable for reward substitution. Leveraging the thousands of confocal microscopy images associated with the collection, we analyzed neuronal morphological stereotypy and discovered that one set of mushroom body output neurons, MBON08/MBON09, exhibits striking individuality and asymmetry across animals. In conjunction with the EM connectome maps, the driver lines reported here offer a powerful resource for functional dissection of neural circuits for associative learning in adult Drosophila.

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09/07/23 | Combinatorial circuit dynamics orchestrate flexible motor patterns in Drosophila.
Hiroshi M. Shiozaki , Kaiyu Wang , Joshua L. Lillvis , Min Xu , Barry J. Dickson , David L. Stern
bioRxiv. 2023 Sep 07:. doi: 10.1101/2022.12.14.520499

Motor systems flexibly implement diverse motor programs to pattern behavioral sequences, yet their neural underpinnings remain unclear. Here, we investigated the neural circuit mechanisms of flexible courtship behavior in Drosophila. Courting males alternately produce two types of courtship song. By recording calcium signals in the ventral nerve cord (VNC) in behaving flies, we found that different songs are produced by activating overlapping neural populations with distinct motor functions in a combinatorial manner. Recordings from the brain suggest that song is driven by two descending pathways – one defines when to sing and the other specifies what song to sing. Connectomic analysis reveals that these “when” and “what” descending pathways provide structured input to VNC neurons with different motor functions. These results suggest that dynamic changes in the activation patterns of descending pathways drive different combinations of motor modules, thereby flexibly switching between different motor actions.

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09/01/23 | The Neural Basis of Drosophila Courtship Song
Joshua L. Lillvis , Kaiyu Wang , Hiroshi M. Shiozaki , Min Xu , David L. Stern , Barry J. Dickson
bioRxiv. 2023 Sep 01:. doi: 10.1101/2023.08.30.555537

Animal sounds are produced by patterned vibrations of specific organs, but the neural circuits that drive these vibrations are not well defined in any animal. Here we provide a functional and synaptic map of most of the neurons in the Drosophila male ventral nerve cord (the analog of the vertebrate spinal cord) that drive complex, patterned song during courtship. Male Drosophila vibrate their wings toward females during courtship to produce two distinct song modes – pulse and sine song – with characteristic features that signal species identity and male quality. We identified song-producing neural circuits by optogenetically activating and inhibiting identified cell types in the ventral nerve cord (VNC) and by tracing their patterns of synaptic connectivity in the male VNC connectome. The core song circuit consists of at least eight cell types organized into overlapping circuits, where all neurons are required for pulse song and a subset are required for sine song. The pulse and sine circuits each include a feed-forward pathway from brain descending neurons to wing motor neurons, with extensive reciprocal and feed-back connections. We also identify specific neurons that shape the individual features of each song mode. These results reveal commonalities amongst diverse animals in the neural mechanisms that generate diverse motor patterns from a single set of muscles.

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08/23/23 | Brain wiring determinants uncovered by integrating connectomes and transcriptomes.
Yoo J, Dombrovski M, Mirshahidi P, Nern A, LoCascio SA, Zipursky SL, Kurmangaliyev YZ
Current Biology. 2023 Aug 23;33(18):3998-3998. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2023.08.020

Advances in brain connectomics have demonstrated the extraordinary complexity of neural circuits. Developing neurons encounter the axons and dendrites of many different neuron types and form synapses with only a subset of them. During circuit assembly, neurons express cell-type-specific repertoires comprising many cell adhesion molecules (CAMs) that can mediate interactions between developing neurites. Many CAM families have been shown to contribute to brain wiring in different ways. It has been challenging, however, to identify receptor-ligand pairs directly matching neurons with their synaptic targets. Here, we integrated the synapse-level connectome of the neural circuit with the developmental expression patterns and binding specificities of CAMs on pre- and postsynaptic neurons in the Drosophila visual system. To overcome the complexity of neural circuits, we focus on pairs of genetically related neurons that make differential wiring choices. In the motion detection circuit, closely related subtypes of T4/T5 neurons choose between alternative synaptic targets in adjacent layers of neuropil. This choice correlates with the matching expression in synaptic partners of different receptor-ligand pairs of the Beat and Side families of CAMs. Genetic analysis demonstrated that presynaptic Side-II and postsynaptic Beat-VI restrict synaptic partners to the same layer. Removal of this receptor-ligand pair disrupts layers and leads to inappropriate targeting of presynaptic sites and postsynaptic dendrites. We propose that different Side/Beat receptor-ligand pairs collaborate with other recognition molecules to determine wiring specificities in the fly brain. Combining transcriptomes, connectomes, and protein interactome maps allow unbiased identification of determinants of brain wiring.

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