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1.  Factors that regulate insulin producing cells and their output in Drosophila 
Insulin-like peptides (ILPs) and growth factors (IGFs) not only regulate development, growth, reproduction, metabolism, stress resistance, and lifespan, but also certain behaviors and cognitive functions. ILPs, IGFs, their tyrosine kinase receptors and downstream signaling components have been largely conserved over animal evolution. Eight ILPs have been identified in Drosophila (DILP1-8) and they display cell and stage-specific expression patterns. Only one insulin receptor, dInR, is known in Drosophila and most other invertebrates. Nevertheless, the different DILPs are independently regulated transcriptionally and appear to have distinct functions, although some functional redundancy has been revealed. This review summarizes what is known about regulation of production and release of DILPs in Drosophila with focus on insulin signaling in the daily life of the fly. Under what conditions are DILP-producing cells (IPCs) activated and which factors have been identified in control of IPC activity in larvae and adult flies? The brain IPCs that produce DILP2, 3 and 5 are indirectly targeted by DILP6 and a leptin-like factor from the fat body, as well as directly by a few neurotransmitters and neuropeptides. Serotonin, octopamine, GABA, short neuropeptide F (sNPF), corazonin and tachykinin-related peptide have been identified in Drosophila as regulators of IPCs. The GABAergic cells that inhibit IPCs and DILP release are in turn targeted by a leptin-like peptide (unpaired 2) from the fat body, and the IPC-stimulating corazonin/sNPF neurons may be targeted by gut-derived peptides. We also discuss physiological conditions under which IPC activity may be regulated, including nutritional states, stress and diapause induction.
doi:10.3389/fphys.2013.00252
PMCID: PMC3775311  PMID: 24062693
insulin receptor; neuropeptide; metabolism; neuromodulation; insulin signaling; insulin release
2.  The Sleeping Beauty: How Reproductive Diapause Affects Hormone Signaling, Metabolism, Immune Response and Somatic Maintenance in Drosophila melanogaster 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e113051.
Some organisms can adapt to seasonal and other environmental challenges by entering a state of dormancy, diapause. Thus, insects exposed to decreased temperature and short photoperiod enter a state of arrested development, lowered metabolism, and increased stress resistance. Drosophila melanogaster females can enter a shallow reproductive diapause in the adult stage, which drastically reduces organismal senescence, but little is known about the physiology and endocrinology associated with this dormancy, and the genes involved in its regulation. We induced diapause in D. melanogaster and monitored effects over 12 weeks on dynamics of ovary development, carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, as well as expression of genes involved in endocrine signaling, metabolism and innate immunity. During diapause food intake diminishes drastically, but circulating and stored carbohydrates and lipids are elevated. Gene transcripts of glucagon- and insulin-like peptides increase, and expression of several target genes of these peptides also change. Four key genes in innate immunity can be induced by infection in diapausing flies, and two of these, drosomycin and cecropin A1, are upregulated by diapause independently of infection. Diapausing flies display very low mortality, extended lifespan and decreased aging of the intestinal epithelium. Many phenotypes induced by diapause are reversed after one week of recovery from diapause conditions. Furthermore, mutant flies lacking specific insulin-like peptides (dilp5 and dilp2-3) display increased diapause incidence. Our study provides a first comprehensive characterization of reproductive diapause in D. melanogaster, and evidence that glucagon- and insulin-like signaling are among the key regulators of the altered physiology during this dormancy.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113051
PMCID: PMC4231144  PMID: 25393614
3.  Insulin-Producing Cells in the Drosophila Brain also Express Satiety-Inducing Cholecystokinin-Like Peptide, Drosulfakinin 
Regulation of meal size and assessing the nutritional value of food are two important aspects of feeding behavior. The mechanisms that regulate these two aspects have not been fully elucidated in Drosophila. Diminished signaling with insulin-like peptides Drosophila insulin-like peptides (DILPs) affects food intake in flies, but it is not clear what signal(s) mediates satiety. Here we investigate the role of DILPs and drosulfakinins (DSKs), cholecystokinin-like peptides, as satiety signals in Drosophila. We show that DSKs and DILPs are co-expressed in insulin-producing cells (IPCs) of the brain. Next we analyzed the effects of diminishing DSKs or DILPs employing the Gal4-UAS system by (1) diminishing DSK-levels without directly affecting DILP levels by targeted Dsk-RNAi, either in all DSK-producing cells (DPCs) or only in the IPCs or (2) expressing a hyperpolarizing potassium channel to inactivate either all the DPCs or only the IPCs, affecting release of both peptides. The transgenic flies were assayed for feeding and food choice, resistance to starvation, and for levels of Dilp and Dsk transcripts in brains of fed and starved animals. Diminishment of DSK in the IPCs alone is sufficient to cause defective regulation of food intake and food choice, indicating that DSK functions as a hormonal satiety signal in Drosophila. Quantification of Dsk and Dilp transcript levels reveals that knockdown of either peptide type affects the transcript levels of the other, suggesting a possible feedback regulation between the two signaling pathways. In summary, DSK and DILPs released from the IPCs regulate feeding, food choice and metabolic homeostasis in Drosophila in a coordinated fashion.
doi:10.3389/fendo.2012.00109
PMCID: PMC3431609  PMID: 22969751
peptide hormones; insulin signaling; satiety regulation; feeding behavior; food choice; Drosophila melanogaster
4.  Drosophila Insulin-Producing Cells Are Differentially Modulated by Serotonin and Octopamine Receptors and Affect Social Behavior 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e99732.
A set of 14 insulin-producing cells (IPCs) in the Drosophila brain produces three insulin-like peptides (DILP2, 3 and 5). Activity in IPCs and release of DILPs is nutrient dependent and controlled by multiple factors such as fat body-derived proteins, neurotransmitters, and neuropeptides. Two monoamine receptors, the octopamine receptor OAMB and the serotonin receptor 5-HT1A, are expressed by the IPCs. These receptors may act antagonistically on adenylate cyclase. Here we investigate the action of the two receptors on activity in and output from the IPCs. Knockdown of OAMB by targeted RNAi led to elevated Dilp3 transcript levels in the brain, whereas 5-HT1A knockdown resulted in increases of Dilp2 and 5. OAMB-RNAi in IPCs leads to extended survival of starved flies and increased food intake, whereas 5-HT1A-RNAi produces the opposite phenotypes. However, knockdown of either OAMB or 5-HT1A in IPCs both lead to increased resistance to oxidative stress. In assays of carbohydrate levels we found that 5-HT1A knockdown in IPCs resulted in elevated hemolymph glucose, body glycogen and body trehalose levels, while no effects were seen after OAMB knockdown. We also found that manipulations of the two receptors in IPCs affected male aggressive behavior in different ways and 5-HT1A-RNAi reduced courtship latency. Our observations suggest that activation of 5-HT1A and OAMB signaling in IPCs generates differential effects on Dilp transcription, fly physiology, metabolism and social interactions. However the findings do not support an antagonistic action of the two monoamines and their receptors in this particular system.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0099732
PMCID: PMC4055686  PMID: 24923784
5.  Insulin-producing cells in the brain of adult Drosophila are regulated by the serotonin 5-HT1A receptor 
Insulin signaling regulates lifespan, reproduction, metabolic homeostasis, and resistance to stress in the adult organism. In Drosophila, there are seven insulin-like peptides (DILP1–7). Three of these (DILP2, 3 and 5) are produced in median neurosecretory cells of the brain, designated IPCs. Previous work has suggested that production or release of DILPs in IPCs can be regulated by a factor secreted from the fat body as well as by neuronal GABA or short neuropeptide F. There is also evidence that serotonergic neurons may regulate IPCs. Here, we investigated mechanisms by which serotonin may regulate the IPCs. We show that the IPCs in adult flies express the 5-HT1A, but not the 5-HT1B or 5-HT7 receptors, and that processes of serotonergic neurons impinge on the IPC branches. Knockdown of 5-HT1A in IPCs by targeted RNA interference (RNAi) leads to increased sensitivity to heat, prolonged recovery after cold knockdown and decreased resistance to starvation. Lipid metabolism is also affected, but no effect on growth was seen. Furthermore, we show that DILP2-immunolevels in IPCs increase after 5-HT1A knockdown; this is accentuated by starvation. Heterozygous 5-HT1A mutant flies display the same phenotype in all assays, as seen after targeted 5-HT1A RNAi, and flies fed the 5-HT1A antagonist WAY100635 display reduced life-span at starvation. Our findings suggest that serotonin acts on brain IPCs via the 5-HT1A receptor, thereby affecting their activity and probably insulin signaling. Thus, we have identified a second inhibitory pathway regulating IPC activity in the Drosophila brain.
doi:10.1007/s00018-011-0789-0
PMCID: PMC3934008  PMID: 21818550
5-hydroxytryptamine; Insulin signaling; G-protein-coupled receptor; Lifespan; Stress resistance
6.  Cholecystokinin-Like Peptide (DSK) in Drosophila, Not Only for Satiety Signaling 
Cholecystokinin (CCK) signaling appears well conserved over evolution. In Drosophila, the CCK-like sulfakinins (DSKs) regulate aspects of gut function, satiety and food ingestion, hyperactivity and aggression, as well as escape-related locomotion and synaptic plasticity during neuromuscular junction development. Activity in the DSK-producing neurons is regulated by octopamine. We discuss mechanisms behind CCK function in satiety, aggression, and locomotion in some detail and highlight similarities to mammalian CCK signaling.
doi:10.3389/fendo.2014.00219
PMCID: PMC4270250  PMID: 25566191
neuropeptide; peptide hormone; aggression; feeding; intestinal function; locomotion
7.  Insulin/IGF-Regulated Size Scaling of Neuroendocrine Cells Expressing the bHLH Transcription Factor Dimmed in Drosophila 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(12):e1004052.
Neurons and other cells display a large variation in size in an organism. Thus, a fundamental question is how growth of individual cells and their organelles is regulated. Is size scaling of individual neurons regulated post-mitotically, independent of growth of the entire CNS? Although the role of insulin/IGF-signaling (IIS) in growth of tissues and whole organisms is well established, it is not known whether it regulates the size of individual neurons. We therefore studied the role of IIS in the size scaling of neurons in the Drosophila CNS. By targeted genetic manipulations of insulin receptor (dInR) expression in a variety of neuron types we demonstrate that the cell size is affected only in neuroendocrine cells specified by the bHLH transcription factor DIMMED (DIMM). Several populations of DIMM-positive neurons tested displayed enlarged cell bodies after overexpression of the dInR, as well as PI3 kinase and Akt1 (protein kinase B), whereas DIMM-negative neurons did not respond to dInR manipulations. Knockdown of these components produce the opposite phenotype. Increased growth can also be induced by targeted overexpression of nutrient-dependent TOR (target of rapamycin) signaling components, such as Rheb (small GTPase), TOR and S6K (S6 kinase). After Dimm-knockdown in neuroendocrine cells manipulations of dInR expression have significantly less effects on cell size. We also show that dInR expression in neuroendocrine cells can be altered by up or down-regulation of Dimm. This novel dInR-regulated size scaling is seen during postembryonic development, continues in the aging adult and is diet dependent. The increase in cell size includes cell body, axon terminations, nucleus and Golgi apparatus. We suggest that the dInR-mediated scaling of neuroendocrine cells is part of a plasticity that adapts the secretory capacity to changing physiological conditions and nutrient-dependent organismal growth.
Author Summary
Nerve cells display a large variation in size in an organism. Thus, a fundamental question is how growth of individual cells and their organelles is regulated. We ask if there is a regulatory mechanism for scaling the size of individual nerve cells, independent of the growth of the entire central nervous system (CNS). Growth of tissues and whole organisms depends on insulin/insulin-like growth factor signaling (IIS), but it is not known whether IIS regulates the size of individual nerve cells. We therefore studied the role of IIS in the size scaling of neurons in the CNS of the fruitfly Drosophila. By targeted genetic manipulations of insulin receptor (dInR) expression in a variety of neuron types we demonstrate that the cell size is affected only in neuroendocrine cells specified by the transcription factor DIMMED (DIMM). DIMM-positive neurons displayed enlarged cell bodies after overexpression of the dInR and downstream signaling components, whereas DIMM-negative neurons did not. Knockdown of these components results in smaller neurons. This novel dInR-regulated size scaling is seen during postembryonic development, continues in the aging adult and is diet dependent. We suggest that the dInR-mediated scaling of neuroendocrine cells is part of a plasticity that adapts the secretory capacity (neurohormone production) to changing physiological conditions and nutrient-dependent organismal growth.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004052
PMCID: PMC3873260  PMID: 24385933
8.  The Serotonin 5-HT7Dro Receptor Is Expressed in the Brain of Drosophila, and Is Essential for Normal Courtship and Mating 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e20800.
The 5-HT7 receptor remains one of the less well characterized serotonin receptors. Although it has been demonstrated to be involved in the regulation of mood, sleep, and circadian rhythms, as well as relaxation of vascular smooth muscles in mammals, the precise mechanisms underlying these functions remain largely unknown. The fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, is an attractive model organism to study neuropharmacological, molecular, and behavioral processes that are largely conserved with mammals. Drosophila express a homolog of the mammalian 5-HT7 receptor, as well as homologs for the mammalian 5-HT1A, and 5-HT2, receptors. Each fly receptor couples to the same effector pathway as their mammalian counterpart and have been demonstrated to mediate similar behavioral responses. Here, we report on the expression and function of the 5-HT7Dro receptor in Drosophila. In the larval central nervous system, expression is detected postsynaptically in discreet cells and neuronal circuits. In the adult brain there is strong expression in all large-field R neurons that innervate the ellipsoid body, as well as in a small group of cells that cluster with the PDF-positive LNvs neurons that mediate circadian activity. Following both pharmacological and genetic approaches, we have found that 5-HT7Dro activity is essential for normal courtship and mating behaviors in the fly, where it appears to mediate levels of interest in both males and females. This is the first reported evidence of direct involvement of a particular serotonin receptor subtype in courtship and mating in the fly.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0020800
PMCID: PMC3107233  PMID: 21674056
9.  Insulin Production and Signaling in Renal Tubules of Drosophila Is under Control of Tachykinin-Related Peptide and Regulates Stress Resistance 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e19866.
The insulin-signaling pathway is evolutionarily conserved in animals and regulates growth, reproduction, metabolic homeostasis, stress resistance and life span. In Drosophila seven insulin-like peptides (DILP1-7) are known, some of which are produced in the brain, others in fat body or intestine. Here we show that DILP5 is expressed in principal cells of the renal tubules of Drosophila and affects survival at stress. Renal (Malpighian) tubules regulate water and ion homeostasis, but also play roles in immune responses and oxidative stress. We investigated the control of DILP5 signaling in the renal tubules by Drosophila tachykinin peptide (DTK) and its receptor DTKR during desiccative, nutritional and oxidative stress. The DILP5 levels in principal cells of the tubules are affected by stress and manipulations of DTKR expression in the same cells. Targeted knockdown of DTKR, DILP5 and the insulin receptor dInR in principal cells or mutation of Dilp5 resulted in increased survival at either stress, whereas over-expression of these components produced the opposite phenotype. Thus, stress seems to induce hormonal release of DTK that acts on the renal tubules to regulate DILP5 signaling. Manipulations of S6 kinase and superoxide dismutase (SOD2) in principal cells also affect survival at stress, suggesting that DILP5 acts locally on tubules, possibly in oxidative stress regulation. Our findings are the first to demonstrate DILP signaling originating in the renal tubules and that this signaling is under control of stress-induced release of peptide hormone.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019866
PMCID: PMC3091884  PMID: 21572965
10.  Insulin Signaling, Lifespan and Stress Resistance Are Modulated by Metabotropic GABA Receptors on Insulin Producing Cells in the Brain of Drosophila 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(12):e15780.
Insulin-like peptides (ILPs) regulate growth, reproduction, metabolic homeostasis, life span and stress resistance in worms, flies and mammals. A set of insulin producing cells (IPCs) in the Drosophila brain that express three ILPs (DILP2, 3 and 5) have been the main focus of interest in hormonal DILP signaling. Little is, however, known about factors that regulate DILP production and release by these IPCs. Here we show that the IPCs express the metabotropic GABAB receptor (GBR), but not the ionotropic GABAA receptor subunit RDL. Diminishing the GBR expression on these cells by targeted RNA interference abbreviates life span, decreases metabolic stress resistance and alters carbohydrate and lipid metabolism at stress, but not growth in Drosophila. A direct effect of diminishing GBR on IPCs is an increase in DILP immunofluorescence in these cells, an effect that is accentuated at starvation. Knockdown of irk3, possibly part of a G protein-activated inwardly rectifying K+ channel that may link to GBRs, phenocopies GBR knockdown in starvation experiments. Our experiments suggest that the GBR is involved in inhibitory control of DILP production and release in adult flies at metabolic stress and that this receptor mediates a GABA signal from brain interneurons that may convey nutritional signals. This is the first demonstration of a neurotransmitter that inhibits insulin signaling in its regulation of metabolism, stress and life span in an invertebrate brain.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0015780
PMCID: PMC3012717  PMID: 21209905
11.  Metabolic Stress Responses in Drosophila Are Modulated by Brain Neurosecretory Cells That Produce Multiple Neuropeptides 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(7):e11480.
In Drosophila, neurosecretory cells that release peptide hormones play a prominent role in the regulation of development, growth, metabolism, and reproduction. Several types of peptidergic neurosecretory cells have been identified in the brain of Drosophila with release sites in the corpora cardiaca and anterior aorta. We show here that in adult flies the products of three neuropeptide precursors are colocalized in five pairs of large protocerebral neurosecretory cells in two clusters (designated ipc-1 and ipc-2a): Drosophila tachykinin (DTK), short neuropeptide F (sNPF) and ion transport peptide (ITP). These peptides were detected by immunocytochemistry in combination with GFP expression driven by the enhancer trap Gal4 lines c929 and Kurs-6, both of which are expressed in ipc-1 and 2a cells. This mix of colocalized peptides with seemingly unrelated functions is intriguing and prompted us to initiate analysis of the function of the ten neurosecretory cells. We investigated the role of peptide signaling from large ipc-1 and 2a cells in stress responses by monitoring the effect of starvation and desiccation in flies with levels of DTK or sNPF diminished by RNA interference. Using the Gal4-UAS system we targeted the peptide knockdown specifically to ipc-1 and 2a cells with the c929 and Kurs-6 drivers. Flies with reduced DTK or sNPF levels in these cells displayed decreased survival time at desiccation and starvation, as well as increased water loss at desiccation. Our data suggest that homeostasis during metabolic stress requires intact peptide signaling by ipc-1 and 2a neurosecretory cells.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0011480
PMCID: PMC2900207  PMID: 20628603
12.  A Presynaptic Gain Control Mechanism Fine-Tunes Olfactory Behavior 
Neuron  2008;59(2):311-321.
Early sensory processing can play a critical role in sensing environmental cues. We have investigated the physiological and behavioral function of gain control at the first synapse of olfactory processing in Drosophila. We report that olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) express the GABAB receptor (GABABR) and its expression expands the dynamic range of ORN synaptic transmission that is preserved in projection neuron responses. Strikingly, we find that different ORN channels have unique baseline levels of GABABR expression. ORNs that sense the aversive odorant CO2 do not express GABABRs nor exhibit any presynaptic inhibition. In contrast, pheromone-sensing ORNs express a high level of GABABRs and exhibit strong presynaptic inhibition. Furthermore, a behavioral significance of presynaptic inhibition was revealed by a courtship behavior in which pheromone-dependent mate localization is impaired in flies that lack GABABRs in specific ORNs. Together, these findings indicate that different olfactory receptor channels may employ heterogeneous presynaptic gain control as a mechanism to allow an animal’s innate behavioral responses to match its ecological needs.
doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2008.07.003
PMCID: PMC2539065  PMID: 18667158
Drosophila; olfaction; GABAB; presynaptic inhibition; gain control; dynamic range; two-photon imaging
13.  A large population of diverse neurons in the Drosophila central nervous system expresses short neuropeptide F, suggesting multiple distributed peptide functions 
BMC Neuroscience  2008;9:90.
Background
Insect neuropeptides are distributed in stereotypic sets of neurons that commonly constitute a small fraction of the total number of neurons. However, some neuropeptide genes are expressed in larger numbers of neurons of diverse types suggesting that they are involved in a greater diversity of functions. One of these widely expressed genes, snpf, encodes the precursor of short neuropeptide F (sNPF). To unravel possible functional diversity we have mapped the distribution of transcript of the snpf gene and its peptide products in the central nervous system (CNS) of Drosophila in relation to other neuronal markers.
Results
There are several hundreds of neurons in the larval CNS and several thousands in the adult Drosophila brain expressing snpf transcript and sNPF peptide. Most of these neurons are intrinsic interneurons of the mushroom bodies. Additionally, sNPF is expressed in numerous small interneurons of the CNS, olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) of the antennae, and in a small set of possibly neurosecretory cells innervating the corpora cardiaca and aorta. A sNPF-Gal4 line confirms most of the expression pattern. None of the sNPF immunoreactive neurons co-express a marker for the transcription factor DIMMED, suggesting that the majority are not neurosecretory cells or large interneurons involved in episodic bulk transmission. Instead a portion of the sNPF producing neurons co-express markers for classical neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine, GABA and glutamate, suggesting that sNPF is a co-transmitter or local neuromodulator in ORNs and many interneurons. Interestingly, sNPF is coexpressed both with presumed excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters. A few sNPF expressing neurons in the brain colocalize the peptide corazonin and a pair of dorsal neurons in the first abdominal neuromere coexpresses sNPF and insulin-like peptide 7 (ILP7).
Conclusion
It is likely that sNPF has multiple functions as neurohormone as well as local neuromodulator/co-transmitter in various CNS circuits, including olfactory circuits both at the level of the first synapse and at the mushroom body output level. Some of the sNPF immunoreactive axons terminate in close proximity to neurosecretory cells producing ILPs and adipokinetic hormone, indicating that sNPF also might regulate hormone production or release.
doi:10.1186/1471-2202-9-90
PMCID: PMC2569041  PMID: 18803813
14.  Glutamate, GABA and Acetylcholine Signaling Components in the Lamina of the Drosophila Visual System 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(5):e2110.
Synaptic connections of neurons in the Drosophila lamina, the most peripheral synaptic region of the visual system, have been comprehensively described. Although the lamina has been used extensively as a model for the development and plasticity of synaptic connections, the neurotransmitters in these circuits are still poorly known. Thus, to unravel possible neurotransmitter circuits in the lamina of Drosophila we combined Gal4 driven green fluorescent protein in specific lamina neurons with antisera to γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), glutamic acid decarboxylase, a GABAB type of receptor, L-glutamate, a vesicular glutamate transporter (vGluT), ionotropic and metabotropic glutamate receptors, choline acetyltransferase and a vesicular acetylcholine transporter. We suggest that acetylcholine may be used as a neurotransmitter in both L4 monopolar neurons and a previously unreported type of wide-field tangential neuron (Cha-Tan). GABA is the likely transmitter of centrifugal neurons C2 and C3 and GABAB receptor immunoreactivity is seen on these neurons as well as the Cha-Tan neurons. Based on an rdl-Gal4 line, the ionotropic GABAA receptor subunit RDL may be expressed by L4 neurons and a type of tangential neuron (rdl-Tan). Strong vGluT immunoreactivity was detected in α-processes of amacrine neurons and possibly in the large monopolar neurons L1 and L2. These neurons also express glutamate-like immunoreactivity. However, antisera to ionotropic and metabotropic glutamate receptors did not produce distinct immunosignals in the lamina. In summary, this paper describes novel features of two distinct types of tangential neurons in the Drosophila lamina and assigns putative neurotransmitters and some receptors to a few identified neuron types.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002110
PMCID: PMC2373871  PMID: 18464935
15.  Neuroarchitecture of Peptidergic Systems in the Larval Ventral Ganglion of Drosophila melanogaster 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(8):e695.
Recent studies on Drosophila melanogaster and other insects have revealed important insights into the functions and evolution of neuropeptide signaling. In contrast, in- and output connections of insect peptidergic circuits are largely unexplored. Existing morphological descriptions typically do not determine the exact spatial location of peptidergic axonal pathways and arborizations within the neuropil, and do not identify peptidergic in- and output compartments. Such information is however fundamental to screen for possible peptidergic network connections, a prerequisite to understand how the CNS controls the activity of peptidergic neurons at the synaptic level. We provide a precise 3D morphological description of peptidergic neurons in the thoracic and abdominal neuromeres of the Drosophila larva based on fasciclin-2 (Fas2) immunopositive tracts as landmarks. Comparing the Fas2 “coordinates” of projections of sensory or other neurons with those of peptidergic neurons, it is possible to identify candidate in- and output connections of specific peptidergic systems. These connections can subsequently be more rigorously tested. By immunolabeling and GAL4-directed expression of marker proteins, we analyzed the projections and compartmentalization of neurons expressing 12 different peptide genes, encoding approximately 75% of the neuropeptides chemically identified within the Drosophila CNS. Results are assembled into standardized plates which provide a guide to identify candidate afferent or target neurons with overlapping projections. In general, we found that putative dendritic compartments of peptidergic neurons are concentrated around the median Fas2 tracts and the terminal plexus. Putative peptide release sites in the ventral nerve cord were also more laterally situated. Our results suggest that i) peptidergic neurons in the Drosophila ventral nerve cord have separated in- and output compartments in specific areas, and ii) volume transmission is a prevailing way of peptidergic communication within the CNS. The data can further be useful to identify colocalized transmitters and receptors, and develop peptidergic neurons as new landmarks.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000695
PMCID: PMC1933254  PMID: 17668072

Results 1-15 (15)