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19 Janelia Publications

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    12/15/22 | 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
    bioRxiv. 2022 Dec 15:. doi: 10.1101/2022.12.21.521497

    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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    12/15/22 | Neural coding of distinct motor patterns during Drosophila courtship song
    Hiroshi M. Shiozaki , Kaiyu Wang , Joshua L. Lillvis , Min Xu , Barry J. Dickson , David L. Stern
    bioRxiv. 2022 Dec 15:. doi: 10.1101/2022.12.14.520499

    Animals flexibly switch between different actions by changing neural activity patterns for motor control. Courting Drosophila melanogaster males produce two different acoustic signals, pulse and sine song, each of which can be promoted by artificial activation of distinct neurons. However, how the activity of these neurons implements flexible song production is unknown. Here, we developed an assay to record neuronal calcium signals in the ventral nerve cord, which contains the song motor circuit, in singing flies. We found that sine-promoting neurons, but not pulse-promoting neurons, show strong activation during sine song. In contrast, both pulse- and sine-promoting neurons are active during pulse song. Furthermore, population calcium imaging in the song circuit suggests that sine song involves activation of a subset of neurons that are also active during pulse song. Thus, differential activation of overlapping, rather than distinct, neural populations underlies flexible motor actions during acoustic communication in D. melanogaster.

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    08/19/22 | Flexible control of behavioral variability mediated by an internal representation of head direction
    Chuntao Dan , Brad K. Hulse , Vivek Jayaraman , Ann M. Hermundstad
    bioRxiv. 2022 Aug 19:. doi: 10.1101/2021.08.18.456004

    Internal representations are thought to support the generation of flexible, long-timescale behavioral patterns in both animals and artificial agents. Here, we present a novel conceptual framework for how Drosophila use their internal representation of head direction to maintain preferred headings in their surroundings, and how they learn to modify these preferences in the presence of selective thermal reinforcement. To develop the framework, we analyzed flies’ behavior in a classical operant visual learning paradigm and found that they use stochastically generated fixations and directed turns to express their heading preferences. Symmetries in the visual scene used in the paradigm allowed us to expose how flies’ probabilistic behavior in this setting is tethered to their head direction representation. We describe how flies’ ability to quickly adapt their behavior to the rules of their environment may rest on a behavioral policy whose parameters are flexible but whose form is genetically encoded in the structure of their circuits. Many of the mechanisms we outline may also be relevant for rapidly adaptive behavior driven by internal representations in other animals, including mammals.

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    08/17/22 | Homeodomain proteins hierarchically specify neuronal diversity and synaptic connectivity
    Chundi Xu , Tyler B. Ramos , Ed M. Rogers , Michael B. Reiser , Chris Q. Doe
    bioRxiv. 2022 Aug 17:. doi: 10.1101/2021.10.01.462699

    The brain generates diverse neuron types which express unique homeodomain transcription factors (TFs) and assemble into precise neural circuits. Yet a mechanistic framework is lacking for how homeodomain TFs specify both neuronal fate and synaptic connectivity. We use Drosophila lamina neurons (L1-L5) to show the homeodomain TF Brain-specific homeobox (Bsh) is initiated in lamina precursor cells (LPCs) where it specifies L4/L5 fate and suppresses homeodomain TF Zfh1 to prevent L1/L3 fate. Subsequently, Bsh activates the homeodomain TF Apterous (Ap) in L4 in a feedforward loop to express the synapse recognition molecule DIP-β, in part by Bsh direct binding a DIP-β intron. Thus, homeodomain TFs function hierarchically: primary homeodomain TF (Bsh) first specifies neuronal fate, and subsequently acts with secondary homeodomain TF (Ap) to activate DIP-β, thereby generating precise synaptic connectivity. We speculate that hierarchical homeodomain TF function may represent a general principle for coordinating neuronal fate specification and circuit assembly.

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    05/26/22 | One engram two readouts: stimulus dynamics switch a learned behavior in Drosophila
    Mehrab N Modi , Adithya Rajagopalan , Hervé Rouault , Yoshinori Aso , Glenn C Turner
    bioRxiv. 2022 May 26:. doi: 10.1101/2022.05.24.492551

    Memory guides the choices an animal makes across widely varying conditions in dynamic environments. Consequently, the most adaptive choice depends on the options available. How can a single memory support optimal behavior across different sets of choice options? We address this using olfactory learning in Drosophila. Even when we restrict an odor-punishment association to a single set of synapses using optogenetics, we find that flies still show choice behavior that depends on the options it encounters. Here we show that how the odor choices are presented to the animal influences memory recall itself. Presenting two similar odors in sequence enabled flies to not only discriminate them behaviorally but also at the level of neural activity. However, when the same odors were encountered as solitary stimuli, no such differences were detectable. These results show that memory recall is not simply a comparison to a static learned template, but can be adaptively modulated by stimulus dynamics.

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    03/14/22 | A population of descending neurons that regulates the flight motor of Drosophila.
    Namiki S, Ros IG, Morrow C, Rowell WJ, Card GM, Korff W, Dickinson MH
    Current Biology. 2022 Mar 14;32(5):1189-1196. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2022.01.008

    Similar to many insect species, Drosophila melanogaster is capable of maintaining a stable flight trajectory for periods lasting up to several hours. Because aerodynamic torque is roughly proportional to the fifth power of wing length, even small asymmetries in wing size require the maintenance of subtle bilateral differences in flapping motion to maintain a stable path. Flies can even fly straight after losing half of a wing, a feat they accomplish via very large, sustained kinematic changes to both the damaged and intact wings. Thus, the neural network responsible for stable flight must be capable of sustaining fine-scaled control over wing motion across a large dynamic range. In this study, we describe an unusual type of descending neuron (DNg02) that projects directly from visual output regions of the brain to the dorsal flight neuropil of the ventral nerve cord. Unlike many descending neurons, which exist as single bilateral pairs with unique morphology, there is a population of at least 15 DNg02 cell pairs with nearly identical shape. By optogenetically activating different numbers of DNg02 cells, we demonstrate that these neurons regulate wingbeat amplitude over a wide dynamic range via a population code. Using two-photon functional imaging, we show that DNg02 cells are responsive to visual motion during flight in a manner that would make them well suited to continuously regulate bilateral changes in wing kinematics. Collectively, we have identified a critical set of descending neurons that provides the sensitivity and dynamic range required for flight control.

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    02/01/22 | A neural circuit linking learning and sleep in Drosophila long-term memory.
    Lei Z, Henderson K, Keleman K
    Nature Communications. 2022 Feb 01;13(1):609. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-28256-1

    Animals retain some but not all experiences in long-term memory (LTM). Sleep supports LTM retention across animal species. It is well established that learning experiences enhance post-learning sleep. However, the underlying mechanisms of how learning mediates sleep for memory retention are not clear. Drosophila males display increased amounts of sleep after courtship learning. Courtship learning depends on Mushroom Body (MB) neurons, and post-learning sleep is mediated by the sleep-promoting ventral Fan-Shaped Body neurons (vFBs). We show that post-learning sleep is regulated by two opposing output neurons (MBONs) from the MB, which encode a measure of learning. Excitatory MBONs-γ2α'1 becomes increasingly active upon increasing time of learning, whereas inhibitory MBONs-β'2mp is activated only by a short learning experience. These MB outputs are integrated by SFS neurons, which excite vFBs to promote sleep after prolonged but not short training. This circuit may ensure that only longer or more intense learning experiences induce sleep and are thereby consolidated into LTM.

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    12/06/21 | Functional architecture of neural circuits for leg proprioception in Drosophila.
    Chen C, Agrawal S, Mark B, Mamiya A, Sustar A, Phelps JS, Lee WA, Dickson BJ, Card GM, Tuthill JC
    Current Biology. 2021 Dec 06;31(23):5163. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2021.09.035

    To effectively control their bodies, animals rely on feedback from proprioceptive mechanosensory neurons. In the Drosophila leg, different proprioceptor subtypes monitor joint position, movement direction, and vibration. Here, we investigate how these diverse sensory signals are integrated by central proprioceptive circuits. We find that signals for leg joint position and directional movement converge in second-order neurons, revealing pathways for local feedback control of leg posture. Distinct populations of second-order neurons integrate tibia vibration signals across pairs of legs, suggesting a role in detecting external substrate vibration. In each pathway, the flow of sensory information is dynamically gated and sculpted by inhibition. Overall, our results reveal parallel pathways for processing of internal and external mechanosensory signals, which we propose mediate feedback control of leg movement and vibration sensing, respectively. The existence of a functional connectivity map also provides a resource for interpreting connectomic reconstruction of neural circuits for leg proprioception.

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    11/01/21 | Whole-cell organelle segmentation in volume electron microscopy.
    Heinrich L, Bennett D, Ackerman D, Park W, Bogovic J, Eckstein N, Petruncio A, Clements J, Pang S, Xu CS, Funke J, Korff W, Hess HF, Lippincott-Schwartz J, Saalfeld S, Weigel AV, COSEM Project Team
    Nature. 2021 Nov 01;599(7883):141-46. doi: 10.1038/s41586-021-03977-3

    Cells contain hundreds of organelles and macromolecular assemblies. Obtaining a complete understanding of their intricate organization requires the nanometre-level, three-dimensional reconstruction of whole cells, which is only feasible with robust and scalable automatic methods. Here, to support the development of such methods, we annotated up to 35 different cellular organelle classes-ranging from endoplasmic reticulum to microtubules to ribosomes-in diverse sample volumes from multiple cell types imaged at a near-isotropic resolution of 4 nm per voxel with focused ion beam scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM). We trained deep learning architectures to segment these structures in 4 nm and 8 nm per voxel FIB-SEM volumes, validated their performance and showed that automatic reconstructions can be used to directly quantify previously inaccessible metrics including spatial interactions between cellular components. We also show that such reconstructions can be used to automatically register light and electron microscopy images for correlative studies. We have created an open data and open-source web repository, 'OpenOrganelle', to share the data, computer code and trained models, which will enable scientists everywhere to query and further improve automatic reconstruction of these datasets.

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    01/01/21 | Neural circuit mechanisms of sexual receptivity in Drosophila females.
    Wang K, Wang F, Forknall N, Yang T, Patrick C, Parekh R, Dickson BJ
    Nature. 2021 Jan 01;589(7843):577-81. doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2972-7

    Choosing a mate is one of the most consequential decisions a female will make during her lifetime. A female fly signals her willingness to mate by opening her vaginal plates, allowing a courting male to copulate. Vaginal plate opening (VPO) occurs in response to the male courtship song and is dependent on the mating status of the female. How these exteroceptive (song) and interoceptive (mating status) inputs are integrated to regulate VPO remains unknown. Here we characterize the neural circuitry that implements mating decisions in the brain of female Drosophila melanogaster. We show that VPO is controlled by a pair of female-specific descending neurons (vpoDNs). The vpoDNs receive excitatory input from auditory neurons (vpoENs), which are tuned to specific features of the D. melanogaster song, and from pC1 neurons, which encode the mating status of the female. The song responses of vpoDNs, but not vpoENs, are attenuated upon mating, accounting for the reduced receptivity of mated females. This modulation is mediated by pC1 neurons. The vpoDNs thus directly integrate the external and internal signals that control the mating decisions of Drosophila females.

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