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5 Janelia Publications

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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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