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3 Janelia Publications

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    10/14/18 | Social isolation-induced epigenetic and transcriptional changes in Drosophila dopaminergic neurons.
    Agrawal P, Chung P, Heberlein U, Kent CF
    bioRxiv. 2018 Oct 14:. doi: 10.1101/443226

    Epigenetic mechanisms play fundamental roles in brain function and behavior and stressors such as social isolation can alter animal behavior via epigenetic mechanisms. However, due to cellular heterogeneity, identifying cell-type-specific epigenetic changes in the brain is challenging. Here we report first use of a modified INTACT method in behavioral epigenetics of Drosophila: a method we call mini-INTACT. Using ChIP-seq on mini-INTACT purified dopaminergic nuclei, we identified epigenetic signatures in socially-isolated and socially-enriched Drosophila males. Social experience altered the epigenetic landscape in clusters of genes involved in transcription and neural function. Some of these alterations were predicted by expression changes of four transcription factors and the prevalence of their binding sites in several clusters. These transcription factors were previously identified as activity-regulated genes and their knockdown in dopaminergic neurons reduced the effects of social experience on sleep. Our work enables the use of Drosophila as a model for cell-type-specific behavioral epigenetics.

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    05/07/18 | Ejaculation induced by the activation of Crz neurons is rewarding to Drosophila males.
    Zer-Krispil S, Zak H, Shao L, Ben-Shaanan S, Tordjman L, Bentzur A, Shmueli A, Shohat-Ophir G
    Current Biology : CB. 2018 May 07;28(9):1445-1452.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.03.039

    The reward system is a collection of circuits that reinforce behaviors necessary for survival [1, 2]. Given the importance of reproduction for survival, actions that promote successful mating induce pleasurable feeling and are positively reinforced [3, 4]. This principle is conserved in Drosophila, where successful copulation is naturally rewarding to male flies, induces long-term appetitive memories [5], increases brain levels of neuropeptide F (NPF, the fly homolog of neuropeptide Y), and prevents ethanol, known otherwise as rewarding to flies [6, 7], from being rewarding [5]. It is not clear which of the multiple sensory and motor responses performed during mating induces perception of reward. Sexual interactions with female flies that do not reach copulation are not sufficient to reduce ethanol consumption [5], suggesting that only successful mating encounters are rewarding. Here, we uncoupled the initial steps of mating from its final steps and tested the ability of ejaculation to mimic the rewarding value of full copulation. We induced ejaculation by activating neurons that express the neuropeptide corazonin (CRZ) [8] and subsequently measured different aspects of reward. We show that activating Crz-expressing neurons is rewarding to male flies, as they choose to reside in a zone that triggers optogenetic stimulation of Crz neurons and display conditioned preference for an odor paired with the activation. Reminiscent of successful mating, repeated activation of Crz neurons increases npf levels and reduces ethanol consumption. Our results demonstrate that ejaculation stimulated by Crz/Crz-receptor signaling serves as an essential part of the mating reward mechanism in Drosophila. VIDEO ABSTRACT.

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    01/16/18 | Repetitive aggressive encounters generate a long-lasting internal state in Drosophila melanogaster males.
    Kim Y, Saver M, Simon J, Kent CF, Shao L, Eddison M, Agrawal P, Texada M, Truman JW, Heberlein U
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2018 Jan 16;115(5):1099-104. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1716612115

    Multiple studies have investigated the mechanisms of aggressive behavior in Drosophila; however, little is known about the effects of chronic fighting experience. Here, we investigated if repeated fighting encounters would induce an internal state that could affect the expression of subsequent behavior. We trained wild-type males to become winners or losers by repeatedly pairing them with hypoaggressive or hyperaggressive opponents, respectively. As described previously, we observed that chronic losers tend to lose subsequent fights, while chronic winners tend to win them. Olfactory conditioning experiments showed that winning is perceived as rewarding, while losing is perceived as aversive. Moreover, the effect of chronic fighting experience generalized to other behaviors, such as gap-crossing and courtship. We propose that in response to repeatedly winning or losing aggressive encounters, male flies form an internal state that displays persistence and generalization; fight outcomes can also have positive or negative valence. Furthermore, we show that the activities of the PPL1-γ1pedc dopaminergic neuron and the MBON-γ1pedc>α/β mushroom body output neuron are required for aversion to an olfactory cue associated with losing fights.

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