The DYRKs (dual-specificity tyrosine phosphorylation-regulated kinases) are a conserved family of protein kinases that are associated with a number of neurological disorders, but whose biological targets are poorly understood. Drosophila encodes three Dyrks: minibrain/Dyrk1A, DmDyrk2, and DmDyrk3. Here we describe the creation and characterization of a DmDyrk2 null allele, DmDyrk21w17. We provide evidence that the smell impaired allele smi35A1, is likely to encode DmDyrk2. We also demonstrate that DmDyrk2 is expressed late in the developing third antennal segment, an anatomical structure associated with smell. In addition, we find that DmDyrk2 is expressed in the morphogenetic furrow of the developing eye, that loss of DmDyrk2 in the eye produced a subtle but measurable defect, and that ectopic DmDyrk2 expression in the eye produced a strong rough eye phenotype characterized by increased secondary, tertiary and bristle interommatidial cells. This phenotype was dependent on DmDyrk2 kinase activity and was only manifest when expressed in post-mitotic non-neuronal progenitors. Together, these data indicate that DmDyrk2 is expressed in developing sensory systems, that it is required for the development of the visual system, and that the eye is a good model to identify DmDyrk2 targets.
Multimodal integration allows neural circuits to be activated in a behaviorally context-specific manner. In the case of odor plume tracking by Drosophila, an attractive odorant increases the influence of yaw-optic flow on steering behavior in flight, which enhances visual stability reflexes, resulting in straighter flight trajectories within an odor plume. However, it is not well understood whether context-specific changes in optomotor behavior are the result of an increased sensitivity to motion inputs (e.g., through increased visual attention) or direct scaling of motor outputs (i.e., increased steering gain). We address this question by examining the optomotor behavior of Drosophila melanogaster in a tethered flight assay and demonstrate that whereas olfactory cues decrease the gain of the optomotor response to sideslip optic flow, they concomitantly increase the gain of the yaw optomotor response by enhancing the animal's ability to follow transient visual perturbations. Furthermore, ablating the mushroom bodies (MBs) of the fly brain via larval hydroxyurea (HU) treatment results in a loss of olfaction-dependent increase in yaw optomotor fidelity. By expressing either tetanus toxin light chain or diphtheria toxin in gal4-defined neural circuits, we were able to replicate the loss of function observed in the HU treatment within the lines expressing broadly in the mushroom bodies, but not within specific mushroom body lobes. Finally, we were able to genetically separate the yaw responses and sideslip responses in our behavioral assay. Together, our results implicate the MBs in a fast-acting, memory-independent olfactory modification of a visual reflex that is critical for flight control.
The assessment of response to lithium maintenance treatment in bipolar disorder (BD) is complicated by variable length of treatment, unpredictable clinical course, and often inconsistent compliance. Prospective and retrospective methods of assessment of lithium response have been proposed in the literature. In this study we report the key phenotypic measures of the “Retrospective Criteria of Long-Term Treatment Response in Research Subjects with Bipolar Disorder” scale currently used in the Consortium on Lithium Genetics (ConLiGen) study.
Materials and Methods
Twenty-nine ConLiGen sites took part in a two-stage case-vignette rating procedure to examine inter-rater agreement [Kappa (κ)] and reliability [intra-class correlation coefficient (ICC)] of lithium response. Annotated first-round vignettes and rating guidelines were circulated to expert research clinicians for training purposes between the two stages. Further, we analyzed the distributional properties of the treatment response scores available for 1,308 patients using mixture modeling.
Substantial and moderate agreement was shown across sites in the first and second sets of vignettes (κ = 0.66 and κ = 0.54, respectively), without significant improvement from training. However, definition of response using the A score as a quantitative trait and selecting cases with B criteria of 4 or less showed an improvement between the two stages (ICC1 = 0.71 and ICC2 = 0.75, respectively). Mixture modeling of score distribution indicated three subpopulations (full responders, partial responders, non responders).
We identified two definitions of lithium response, one dichotomous and the other continuous, with moderate to substantial inter-rater agreement and reliability. Accurate phenotypic measurement of lithium response is crucial for the ongoing ConLiGen pharmacogenomic study.
Acamprosate is clinically used to treat alcohol-dependent patients. While the molecular and pharmacological mechanisms of acamprosate remain unclear, it has been shown to regulate γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) or glutamate levels in the cortex and striatum. To investigate the effect of acamprosate on brain metabolites in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and nucleus accumbens (NAc), we employed in vivo 16.4T proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy. We utilized type 1 equilibrative nucleoside transporter (ENT1) null mice since acamprosate attenuates ethanol drinking in these mice. Our findings demonstrated that ethanol withdrawal reduced GABA levels and increased phosphorylated choline compounds in the mPFC of both wild-type and ENT1 null mice. Notably, acamprosate normalized these withdrawal-induced changes only in ENT1 null mice. In the NAc, ethanol withdrawal increased glutamate and glutamine (Glx) levels only in wild-type mice. Interestingly, acamprosate reduced Glx levels in the NAc compared to the withdrawal state in both genotypes. These results provide a molecular basis for the pharmacological effect of acamprosate in the cortical-striatal circuit.
acamprosate; ENT1; ethanol withdrawal; [1H] MRS; GABA; glutamate
Engineered tracking systems ‘fuse’ data from disparate sensor platforms, such as radar and video, to synthesize information that is more reliable than any single input. The mammalian brain registers visual and auditory inputs to directionally localize an interesting environmental feature. For a fly, sensory perception is challenged by the extreme performance demands of high speed flight. Yet even a fruit fly can robustly track a fragmented odor plume through varying visual environments, outperforming any human engineered robot. Flies integrate disparate modalities, such as vision and olfaction, which are neither related by spatiotemporal spectra nor processed by registered neural tissue maps. Thus, the fly is motivating new conceptual frameworks for how low-level multisensory circuits and functional algorithms produce high-performance motor control.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have revealed many single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with complex traits. Although these studies frequently fail to identify statistically significant associations, the top association signals from GWAS may be enriched for true associations. We therefore investigated the association of alcohol dependence with 43 SNPs selected from association signals in the first two published GWAS of alcoholism. Our analysis of 808 alcohol-dependent cases and 1,248 controls provided evidence of association of alcohol dependence with SNP rs1614972 in the ADH1C gene (unadjusted p = 0.0017). Because the GWAS study that originally reported association of alcohol dependence with this SNP  included only men, we also performed analyses in sex-specific strata. The results suggest that this SNP has a similar effect in both sexes (men: OR (95%CI) = 0.80 (0.66, 0.95); women: OR (95%CI) = 0.83 (0.66, 1.03)). We also observed marginal evidence of association of the rs1614972 minor allele with lower alcohol consumption in the non-alcoholic controls (p = 0.081), and independently in the alcohol-dependent cases (p = 0.046). Despite a number of potential differences between the samples investigated by the prior GWAS and the current study, data presented here provide additional support for the association of SNP rs1614972 in ADH1C with alcohol dependence and extend this finding by demonstrating association with consumption levels in both non-alcoholic and alcohol-dependent populations. Further studies should investigate the association of other polymorphisms in this gene with alcohol dependence and related alcohol-use phenotypes.
The lack of reliable outcome predictors and the delayed onset of therapeutic response to antidepressants are among the clinical challenges in the treatment of depression. Identifying clinical correlates associated with antidepressant response would reduce symptom severity and morbidity for patients with depression. Twenty-three subjects with major depression were treated with citalopram 20 mg/day in a 6-week open trial and were also simultaneously randomized to either adjunctive triiodothyronine (T3) 25 μg BID (n = 7), pindolol 5 mg BID (n = 8), or placebo (n = 8). Baseline thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), FT4, FT3, and TT3 were measured for potential relationships to treatment response across groups. In males only, there was a significant inverse correlation between baseline free T4 and time to response (r = −0.7, P = 0.034). In both males and females across all treatment conditions, as measured by Kaplan–Meier (K–M) maintenance failure time, baseline TSH below the mean (1.5 ng/dL) was associated with a shorter time to response (50% reduction in Montgomery and Asberg Depression Rating Scale [MADRS] score) (χ2 = 4.53, df = 1, P = 0.03). Patients with baseline TSH above the mean were less likely to reach full remission (MADRS ≤ 7) (χ2 = 4.38, df = 1, P = 0.03). No significant differences between groups emerged in the mean response time. Baseline thyroid function, as measured by serum free T4 and TSH, may predict a patient's response time to antidepressant treatment with citalopram.
Acceleration; antidepressant response; citalopram; free thyroxine; thyroid; thyroid-stimulating hormone; triiodothyronine
Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) of the nucleus accumbens (NAc) has previously been investigated clinically for the treatment of several psychiatric conditions, including obsessive-compulsive disorder and treatment resistant depression. However, the mechanism underlying the therapeutic benefit of DBS, including the brain areas that are activated, remains largely unknown. Here, we utilized 3.0 T functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) changes in Blood Oxygenation Level-Dependent (BOLD) signal to test the hypothesis that NAc/internal capsule DBS results in global neural network activation in a large animal (porcine) model
Animals (n = 10) were implanted in the NAc/internal capsule with DBS electrodes and received stimulation (1, 3, and 5 V, 130 Hz, and pulse widths of 100 and 500 µsec). BOLD signal changes were evaluated using a gradient echo-echo planar imaging (GRE-EPI) sequence in 3.0 T MRI. We used a normalized functional activation map for group analysis and applied general linear modeling across subjects (FDR<0.001). The anatomical location of the implanted DBS lead was confirmed with a CT scan
We observed stimulation-evoked activation in the ipsilateral prefrontal cortex, insula, cingulate and bilateral parahippocampal region along with decrease in BOLD signal in the ipsilateral dorsal region of the thalamus. Furthermore, as the stimulation voltage increased from 3 V to 5 V, the region of BOLD signal modulation increased in insula, thalamus, and parahippocampal cortex and decreased in the cingulate and prefrontal cortex. We also demonstrated that right and left NAc/internal capsule stimulation modulates identical areas ipsilateral to the side of the stimulation
Our results suggest that NAc/internal capsule DBS results in modulation of psychiatrically important brain areas notably the prefrontal cortex, cingulate, and insular cortex, which may underlie the therapeutic effect of NAc DBS in psychiatric disorders. Finally, our fMRI setup in the large animal may be a useful platform for translational studies investigating the global neuromodulatory effects of DBS
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a novel and effective surgical intervention for refractory Parkinson’s disease (PD).
We review the current literature to identify the clinical correlates associated with STN DBS-induced hypomania/mania in PD patients.
Ventromedial electrode placement has been most consistently implicated in the induction of STN DBS-induced mania. There is some evidence of symptom amelioration when electrode placement is switched to a more dorsolateral contact. Additional clinical correlates may include unipolar stimulation, higher voltage (>3 V), male patients and/or early onset PD.
STN DBS-induced psychiatric adverse events emphasize the need for comprehensive psychiatric presurgical evaluation and follow-up in PD patients. Animal studies and prospective clinical research, combined with advanced neuroimaging techniques, are needed to identify clinical correlates and underlying neurobiological mechanism(s) of STN DBS-induced mania. Such working models would serve to further our understanding of the neurobiological underpinnings of mania and contribute valuable new insight towards development of future DBS mood stabilization therapies.
Parkinson’s disease; mania; subthalamic nucleus (STN); deep brain stimulation (DBS)
After a series of serendipitous discoveries of pharmacological treatments for mania and depression several decades ago, relatively little progress has been made for novel hypothesis-driven drug development in mood disorders. Multifactorial etiologies of, and lack of a full understanding of, the core neurobiology of these conditions clearly have contributed to these development challenges. There are, however, relatively novel targets that have raised opportunities for progress in the field, such as glutamate and cholinergic receptor modulators, circadian regulators, and enzyme inhibitors, for alternative treatment. This review will discuss these promising new treatments in mood disorders, the underlying mechanisms of action, and critical issues of their clinical application. For these new treatments to be successful in clinical practice, it is also important to design innovative clinical trials that identify the specific actions of new drugs, and, ideally, to develop biomarkers for monitoring individualized treatment response. It is predicted that future drug development will identify new agents targeting the molecular mechanisms involved in the pathophysiology of mood disorders.
mood disorders; clinical pharmacology; clinical trials; neurotransmission; circadian; signal transduction
Insect antennae are sensory organs involved in a variety of behaviors, sensing many different stimulus modalities. As mechanosensors, they are crucial for flight control in the hawkmoth Manduca sexta. One of their roles is to mediate compensatory reflexes of the abdomen in response to rotations of the body in the pitch axis. Abdominal motions, in turn, are a component of the steering mechanism for flying insects. Using a radio controlled, programmable, miniature stimulator, we show that ultra-low-current electrical stimulation of antennal muscles in freely-flying hawkmoths leads to repeatable, transient changes in the animals' pitch angle, as well as less predictable changes in flight speed and flight altitude. We postulate that by deflecting the antennae we indirectly stimulate mechanoreceptors at the base, which drive compensatory reflexes leading to changes in pitch attitude.
Although bipolar disorder has high heritability, the onset occurs during several decades of life, suggesting that social and environmental factors may have considerable influence on disease onset. This study examined the association between the age of onset and sunlight at the location of onset.
Data were obtained from 2414 patients with a diagnosis of bipolar I disorder, according to DSM-IV criteria. Data were collected at 24 sites in 13 countries spanning latitudes 6.3 to 63.4 degrees from the equator, including data from both hemispheres. The age of onset and location of onset were obtained retrospectively, from patient records and/or direct interviews. Solar insolation data, or the amount of electromagnetic energy striking the surface of the earth, were obtained from the NASA Surface Meteorology and Solar Energy (SSE) database for each location of onset.
The larger the maximum monthly increase in solar insolation at the location of onset, the younger the age of onset (coefficient= −4.724, 95% CI: −8.124 to −1.323, p = 0.006), controlling for each country’s median age. The maximum monthly increase in solar insolation occurred in springtime. No relationships were found between the age of onset and latitude, yearly total solar insolation, and the maximum monthly decrease in solar insolation. The largest maximum monthly increases in solar insolation occurred in diverse environments, including Norway, arid areas in California, and Chile.
The large maximum monthly increase in sunlight in springtime may have an important influence on the onset of bipolar disorder.
PMID: 22612720 CAMSID: cams2451
age of onset; bipolar disorder; solar insolation; sunlight
Patients with bipolar disorder are known to be at high risk of premature death. Comorbid cardio-vascular diseases are a leading cause of excess mortality, well above the risk associated with suicide. In this review, we explore comorbid medical disorders, highlighting evidence that bipolar disorder can be effectively conceptualized as a multi-systemic inflammatory disease.
We conducted a systematic PubMed search of all English-language articles recently published with bipolar disorder cross-referenced with the following terms: mortality and morbidity, cardio-vascular, diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, inflammation, auto-antibody, retro-virus, stress, sleep and circadian rhythm.
Evidence gathered so far suggests that the multi-system involvement is present from the early stages, and therefore requires proactive screening and diagnostic procedures, as well as comprehensive treatment to reduce progression and premature mortality. Exploring the biological pathways that could account for the observed link show that dysregulated inflammatory background could be a common factor underlying cardio-vascular and bipolar disorders. Viewing bipolar disorder as a multi-system disorder should help us to re-conceptualize disorders of the mind as “disorders of the brain and the body”.
The current literature substantially lacks longitudinal and mechanistic studies, as well as comparison studies to explore the magnitude of the medical burden in bipolar disorder compared to major mood disorders as well as psychotic disorders. It is also necessary to look for subgroups of bipolar disorder based on their rates of comorbid disorders.
Comorbid medical illnesses in bipolar disorder might be viewed not only as the consequence of health behaviors and of psychotropic medications, but rather as an early manifestation of a multi-systemic disorder. Medical monitoring is thus a critical component of case assessment. Exploring common biological pathways of inflammation should help biomarkers discovery, ultimately leading to innovative diagnostic tools, new methods of prevention and personalized treatments.
Bipolar disorder; Cardiovascular disease; Mortality; Inflammation; Staging; Prevention
We analyzed the effects of dopamine signaling on the temporal organization of rest and activity in Drosophila melanogaster. Locomotor behaviors were recorded using a video-monitoring system, and the amounts of movements were quantified by using an image processing program. We, first, confirmed that rest bout durations followed long-tailed (i.e., power-law) distributions, whereas activity bout durations did not with a strict method described by Clauset et al. We also studied the effects of circadian rhythm and ambient temperature on rest bouts and activity bouts. The fraction of activity significantly increased during subjective day and at high temperature, but the power-law exponent of the rest bout distribution was not affected. The reduction in rest was realized by reduction in long rest bouts. The distribution of activity bouts did not change drastically under the above mentioned conditions. We then assessed the effects of dopamine. The distribution of rest bouts became less long-tailed and the time spent in activity significantly increased after the augmentation of dopamine signaling. Administration of a dopamine biosynthesis inhibitor yielded the opposite effects. However, the distribution of activity bouts did not contribute to the changes. These results suggest that the modulation of locomotor behavior by dopamine is predominantly controlled by changing the duration of rest bouts, rather than the duration of activity bouts.
In response to imposed course deviations, the optomotor reactions of animals reduce motion blur and facilitate the maintenance of stable body posture. In flies, many anatomical and electrophysiological studies suggest that disparate motion cues stimulating the left and right eyes are not processed in isolation but rather are integrated in the brain to produce a cohesive panoramic percept. To investigate the strength of such inter-ocular interactions and their role in compensatory sensory–motor transformations, we utilize a virtual reality flight simulator to record wing and head optomotor reactions by tethered flying flies in response to imposed binocular rotation and monocular front-to-back and back-to-front motion. Within a narrow range of stimulus parameters that generates large contrast insensitive optomotor responses to binocular rotation, we find that responses to monocular front-to-back motion are larger than those to panoramic rotation, but are contrast sensitive. Conversely, responses to monocular back-to-front motion are slower than those to rotation and peak at the lowest tested contrast. Together our results suggest that optomotor responses to binocular rotation result from the influence of non-additive contralateral inhibitory as well as excitatory circuit interactions that serve to confer contrast insensitivity to flight behaviors influenced by rotatory optic flow.
vision; contralateral; self-motion; sensory–motor; head movement; insect flight
Existing literature on mood disorders suggests that the demographic distribution of bipolar disorder may differ from that of unipolar depression, and also that bipolar disorder may be especially disruptive to personal functioning. Yet, few studies have directly compared the populations with unipolar depressive and bipolar disorders, whether in terms of demographic characteristics or personal limitations. Furthermore, studies have generally examined work-related costs, without fully investigating the extensive personal limitations associated with diagnoses of specific mood disorders. The purpose of the present study is to compare, at a national level, the demographic characteristics, work productivity, and personal limitations among individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder versus those diagnosed with unipolar depressive disorders and no mood disorder.
The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey 2004-2006, a nationally representative survey of the civilian, non-institutionalized U.S. population, was used to identify individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder and unipolar depressive disorders based on ICD-9 classifications. Outcomes of interest were indirect costs, including work productivity and personal limitations.
Compared to those with depression and no mood disorder, higher proportions of the population with bipolar disorder were poor, living alone, and not married. Also, the bipolar disorder population had higher rates of unemployment and social, cognitive, work, and household limitations than the depressed population. In multivariate models, patients with bipolar disorder or depression were more likely to be unemployed, miss work, and have social, cognitive, physical, and household limitations than those with no mood disorder. Notably, findings indicated particularly high costs for bipolar disorder, even beyond depression, with especially large differences in odds ratios for non-employment (4.6 for bipolar disorder versus 1.9 for depression, with differences varying by gender), social limitations (5.17 versus 2.85), cognitive limitations (10.78 versus 3.97), and work limitations (6.71 versus 3.19).
The bipolar disorder population is distinctly more vulnerable than the population with depressive disorder, with evidence of fewer personal resources, lower work productivity, and greater personal limitations. More systematic analysis of the availability and quality of care for patients with bipolar disorder is encouraged to identify effectively tailored treatment interventions and maximize cost containment.
Turbulent fluid landscapes impose temporal patterning upon chemical signals, and the dynamical neuronal responses to patterned input vary across the olfactory receptor repertoire in flies, moths, and locusts. Sensory transformations exhibit low pass filtering that ultimately results in perceptual fusion of temporally transient sensory signals. For example, humans perceive a sufficiently fast flickering light as continuous, but the frequency threshold at which this fusion occurs varies with wavelength. Although the summed frequency sensitivity of the fly antenna has been examined to a considerable extent, it is unknown how intermittent odor signals are integrated to influence plume tracking behavior independent of wind cues, and whether temporal fusion for behavioral tracking might vary according to the odor encountered.
Here we have adopted a virtual reality flight simulator to study the dynamics of plume tracking under different experimental conditions. Flies tethered in a magnetic field actively track continuous (non-intermittent) plumes of vinegar, banana, or ethyl butyrate with equal precision. However, pulsing these plumes at varying frequency reveals that the threshold rate, above which flies track the plume as if it were continuous, is unique for each odorant tested. Thus, the capability of a fly to navigate an intermittent plume depends on the particular odorant being tracked during flight. Finally, we measured antennal field potential responses to an intermittent plume, found that receptor dynamics track the temporal pattern of the odor stimulus and therefore do not limit the observed behavioral temporal fusion limits.
This study explores the flies' ability to track odor plumes that are temporally intermittent. We were surprised to find that the perceptual critical fusion limit, determined behaviorally, is strongly dependent on odor identity. Antennal field potential recordings indicate that peripheral processing of temporal cues faithfully follow rapid odor transients above the rates that can be resolved behaviorally. These results indicate that (1) higher order circuits create a perceptually continuous signal from an intermittent sensory one, and that (2) this transformation varies with odorant rather than being constrained by sensory-motor integration, thus (3) offering an entry point for examining the mechanisms of rapid olfactory decision making in an ecological context.
A flying insect must travel to find food, mates and sites for oviposition, but for a small animal in a turbulent world this means dealing with frequent unplanned deviations from course. We measured a fly's sensory-motor impulse response to perturbations in optic flow. After an abrupt change in its apparent visual position, a fly generates a compensatory dynamical steering response in the opposite direction. The response dynamics, however, may be influenced by superimposed background velocity generated by the animal's flight direction. Here we show that constant forward velocity has no effect on the steering responses to orthogonal sideslip perturbations, whereas constant parallel sideslip substantially shortens the lags and relaxation times of the linear dynamical responses. This implies that for flies stabilizing in sideslip, the control effort is strongly affected by the direction of background motion.
insect vision; velocity; perturbation; dynamical control
Flying insects use visual cues to stabilize their heading in a wind stream. Many animals additionally track odors carried in the wind. As such, visual stabilization of upwind tracking directly aids in odor tracking. But do olfactory signals directly influence visual tracking behavior independently from wind cues? Additionally, recent advances in olfactory molecular genetics and neurophysiology have motivated novel quantitative behavioral analyses to assess the behavioral influence of (e.g.) genetically inactivating specific olfactory activation circuits. We modified a magnetic tether system originally devised for vision experiments by equipping the arena with narrow laminar flow odor plumes. Here we focus on experiments that can be performed after a fly is tethered and is able to navigate in the magnetic arena. We show how to acquire video images optimized for measuring body angle, how to judge stable odor tracking, and we illustrate two experiments to examine the influence of visual cues on odor tracking.
It has been clear for many years that insects use visual cues to stabilize their heading in a wind stream. Many animals track odors carried in the wind. As such, visual stabilization of upwind tracking directly aids in odor tracking. But do olfactory signals directly influence visual tracking behavior independently from wind cues? Also, the recent deluge of research on the neurophysiology and neurobehavioral genetics of olfaction in Drosophila has motivated ever more technically sophisticated and quantitative behavioral assays. Here, we modified a magnetic tether system originally devised for vision experiments by equipping the arena with narrow laminar flow odor plumes. A fly is glued to a small steel pin and suspended in a magnetic field that enables it to yaw freely. Small diameter food odor plumes are directed downward over the fly s head, eliciting stable tracking by a hungry fly. Here we focus on the critical mechanics of tethering, aligning the magnets, devising the odor plume, and confirming stable odor tracking.
Fruit flies make their living on the fly in search of attractive food odors. To maintain forward flight, flies balance the strength of self-induced bilateral visual motion  and bilateral wind cues , but it is unknown whether they use bilateral olfactory cues to track odors in flight. Tracking an odor gradient requires comparisons across two spatially separated chemosensory organs and has been observed in several walking insects [3–5], including Drosophila . The olfactory antennae are separated by a fraction of a millimeter, and most sensory neurons project bilaterally and symmetrically activate the first-order olfactory relay [7, 8], both of which would seem to constrain the capacity for bilateral sensory comparisons. Are fruit flies nonetheless able to track an odor gradient during flight? Using a modified flight simulator that enables maneuvers in the yaw axis , we found that flies readily steer directly toward a laterally positioned odor plume. This capability is abolished by occluding sensory input to one antenna. Mechanosensory input from the Johnston’s organ and olfactory input from the third antennal segment cooperate to direct small angle yaw turns up the plume gradient. We additionally show that sensory signals from the left antenna contribute disproportionately more to odor tracking than the right, providing further evidence of sensory lateralization in invertebrates [10–13].
DEET, 2-undecanone (2-U), IR3535 and Picaridin are widely used as insect repellents to prevent interactions between humans and many arthropods including mosquitoes. Their molecular action has only recently been studied, yielding seemingly contradictory theories including odorant-dependent inhibitory and odorant-independent excitatory activities on insect olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs) and odorant receptor proteins (ORs).
Here we characterize the action of these repellents on two Aedes aegypti ORs, AaOR2 and AaOR8, individually co-expressed with the common co-receptor AaOR7 in Xenopus oocytes; these ORs are respectively activated by the odors indole (AaOR2) and (R)-(−)-1-octen3-ol (AaOR8), odorants used to locate oviposition sites and host animals. In the absence of odorants, DEET activates AaOR2 but not AaOR8, while 2-U activates AaOR8 but not AaOR2; IR3535 and Picaridin do not activate these ORs. In the presence of odors, DEET strongly inhibits AaOR8 but not AaOR2, while 2-U strongly inhibits AaOR2 but not AaOR8; IR3535 and Picaridin strongly inhibit both ORs.
These data demonstrate that repellents can act as olfactory agonists or antagonists, thus modulating OR activity, bringing concordance to conflicting models.
Dopamine is a mediator of the stimulant properties of drugs of abuse, including ethanol, in mammals and in the fruit fly Drosophila. The neural substrates for the stimulant actions of ethanol in flies are not known. We show that a subset of dopamine neurons and their targets, through the action of the D1-like dopamine receptor DopR, promote locomotor activation in response to acute ethanol exposure. A bilateral pair of dopaminergic neurons in the fly brain mediates the enhanced locomotor activity induced by ethanol exposure, and promotes locomotion when directly activated. These neurons project to the central complex ellipsoid body, a structure implicated in regulating motor behaviors. Ellipsoid body neurons are required for ethanol-induced locomotor activity and they express DopR. Elimination of DopR blunts the locomotor activating effects of ethanol, and this behavior can be restored by selective expression of DopR in the ellipsoid body. These data tie the activity of defined dopamine neurons to D1-like DopR-expressing neurons to form a neural circuit that governs acute responding to ethanol.
Like the mammalian visual cortex, the fly visual system is organized into retinotopic columns [1, 2]. A widely accepted biophysical model for computing visual motion, the elementary motion detector proposed nearly 50 years ago  posits a temporal correlation of spatially separated visual inputs implemented across neighboring retinotopic visual columns. Whereas the inputs are defined , the neural substrate for motion computation remains enigmatic. Indeed, it is not known where in the visual processing hierarchy the computation occurs . Here, we combine genetic manipulations with a novel high-throughput dynamic behavioral analysis system to dissect visual circuits required for directional optomotor responses. An enhancer trap screen of synapse-inactivated neural circuits revealed one particularly striking phenotype, which is completely insensitive to motion yet displays fully intact fast phototaxis, indicating that these animals are generally capable of seeing and walking but are unable to respond to motion stimuli. The enhancer circuit is localized within the first optic relay and strongly labels the only columnar interneuron known to interact with neighboring columns both in the lamina and medulla , spatial synaptic interactions that correspond with the two dominant axes of elementary motion detectors on the retinal lattice .
Early in evolution, the ability to sense and respond to changing environments must have provided a critical survival advantage to living organisms. From bacteria and worms to flies and vertebrates, sophisticated mechanisms have evolved to enhance odor detection and localization. Here, we review several modes of chemotaxis. We further consider the relevance of a striking and recurrent motif in the organization of invertebrate and vertebrate sensory systems, namely the existence of two symmetrical olfactory sensors. By combining our current knowledge about the olfactory circuits of larval and adult Drosophila, we examine the molecular and neural mechanisms underlying robust olfactory perception and extend these analyses to recent behavioral studies addressing the relevance and function of bilateral olfactory input for gradient detection. Finally, using a comparative theoretical approach based on Braitenberg's vehicles, we speculate about the relationships between anatomy, circuit architecture and stereotypical orientation behaviors.
drosophila melanogaster; olfaction; bilateral; chemotaxis; orientation behavior; sensory perception