Courtship and visual defects of cacophony mutants reveal functional complexity of a calcium-channel alpha1 subunit in Drosophila.
ABSTRACT: We show by molecular analysis of behavioral and physiological mutants that the Drosophila Dmca1A calcium-channel alpha1 subunit is encoded by the cacophony (cac) gene and that nightblind-A and lethal(1)L13 mutations are allelic to cac with respect to an expanded array of behavioral and physiological phenotypes associated with this gene. The cacS mutant, which exhibits defects in the patterning of courtship lovesong and a newly revealed but subtle abnormality in visual physiology, is mutated such that a highly conserved phenylalanine (in one of the quasi-homologous intrapolypeptide regions called IIIS6) is replaced by isoleucine. The cacH18 mutant exhibits defects in visual physiology (including complete unresponsiveness to light in certain genetic combinations) and visually mediated behaviors; this mutant (originally nbAH18) has a stop codon in an alternative exon (within the cac ORF), which is differentially expressed in the eye. Analysis of the various courtship and visual phenotypes associated with this array of cac mutants demonstrates that Dmca1A calcium channels mediate multiple, separable biological functions; these correlate in part with transcript diversity generated via alternative splicing.
Project description:The cacophony (cac) locus of Drosophila melanogaster, which encodes a calcium-channel subunit, has been mutated to cause courtship-song defects or abnormal responses to visual stimuli. However, the most recently isolated cac mutant was identified as an enhancer of a comatose mutation's effects on general locomotion. We analyzed the cac(TS2) mutation in terms of its intragenic molecular change and its effects on behaviors more complex than the fly's elementary ability to move. The molecular etiology of this mutation is a nucleotide substitution that causes a proline-to-serine change in a region of the polypeptide near its EF hand. Given that this motif is involved in channel inactivation, it was intriguing that cac(TS2) males generate song pulses containing larger-than-normal numbers of cycles--provided that such males are exposed to an elevated temperature. Similar treatments caused only mild visual-response abnormalities and generic locomotor sluggishness. These results are discussed in the context of calcium-channel functions that subserve certain behaviors and of defects exhibited by the original cacophony mutant. Despite its different kind of amino-acid substitution, compared with that of cac(TS2), cac(S) males sing abnormally in a manner that mimics the new mutant's heat-sensitive song anomaly.
Project description:Voltage-gated calcium channels play a key role in chemical synaptic transmission by providing the calcium trigger for regulated neurotransmitter release. Genes encoding the primary structural subunit, alpha1, as well as accessory subunits of presynaptic calcium channels have now been identified in a variety of organisms. The cacophony (cac) gene in Drosophila, also known as nightblind A, encodes a voltage-gated calcium-channel alpha1 subunit homologous to vertebrate alpha1 subunits implicated in neurotransmitter release. A recent genetic screen in our laboratory isolated cac(TS2), a conditional cac mutant exhibiting rapid paralysis at elevated temperatures. This mutant has allowed synaptic electrophysiology after acute perturbation of a specific calcium-channel gene product, demonstrating that cac encodes a primary calcium channel functioning in neurotransmitter release. Here we report the molecular lesion in cac(TS2), a missense mutation within a calcium-dependent regulatory domain of the alpha1 subunit, as well as phenotypic rescue of temperature-sensitive and lethal cac mutations by transgenic expression of a wild-type cac cDNA. Notably, rescue of rapid, calcium-triggered neurotransmitter release was achieved by neural expression of a single cDNA containing a subset of alternative exons and lacking any conserved synaptic-protein interaction sequence. Possible implications of these findings are discussed in the context of structure-function studies of synaptic calcium channels, as well as alternative splicing and mRNA editing of the cac transcript.
Project description:In a screen to identify genes involved in synaptic function, we isolated mutations in Drosophila melanogaster straightjacket (stj), an alpha(2)delta subunit of the voltage-gated calcium channel. stj mutant photoreceptors develop normal synaptic connections but display reduced "on-off" transients in electroretinogram recordings, indicating a failure to evoke postsynaptic responses and, thus, a defect in neurotransmission. stj is expressed in neurons but excluded from glia. Mutants exhibit endogenous seizure-like activity, indicating altered neuronal excitability. However, at the synaptic level, stj larval neuromuscular junctions exhibit approximately fourfold reduction in synaptic release compared with controls stemming from a reduced release probability at these synapses. These defects likely stem from destabilization of Cacophony (Cac), the primary presynaptic alpha(1) subunit in D. melanogaster. Interestingly, neuronal overexpression of cac partially rescues the viability and physiological defects in stj mutants, indicating a role for the alpha(2)delta Ca(2+) channel subunit in mediating the proper localization of an alpha(1) subunit at synapses.
Project description:In Drosophila photoreceptors Ca(2+)-permeable channels TRP and TRPL are the targets of phototransduction, occurring in photosensitive microvilli and mediated by a phospholipase C (PLC) pathway. Using a novel Drosophila brain slice preparation, we studied the distribution and physiological properties of TRP and TRPL in the lamina of the visual system. Immunohistochemical images revealed considerable expression in photoreceptors axons at the lamina. Other phototransduction proteins are also present, mainly PLC and protein kinase C, while rhodopsin is absent. The voltage-dependent Ca(2+) channel cacophony is also present there. Measurements in the lamina with the Ca(2+) fluorescent protein G-CaMP ectopically expressed in photoreceptors, revealed depolarization-induced Ca(2+) increments mediated by cacophony. Additional Ca(2+) influx depends on TRP and TRPL, apparently functioning as store-operated channels. Single synaptic boutons resolved in the lamina by FM4-64 fluorescence revealed that vesicle exocytosis depends on cacophony, TRP and TRPL. In the PLC mutant norpA bouton labeling was also impaired, implicating an additional modulation by this enzyme. Internal Ca(2+) also contributes to exocytosis, since this process was reduced after Ca(2+)-store depletion. Therefore, several Ca(2+) pathways participate in photoreceptor neurotransmitter release: one is activated by depolarization and involves cacophony; this is complemented by internal Ca(2+) release and the activation of TRP and TRPL coupled to Ca(2+) depletion of internal reservoirs. PLC may regulate the last two processes. TRP and TRPL would participate in two different functions in distant cellular regions, where they are opened by different mechanisms. This work sheds new light on the mechanism of neurotransmitter release in tonic synapses of non-spiking neurons.
Project description:Bang sensitive (BS) Drosophila mutants display characteristic seizure-like phenotypes resembling, in some aspects, those of human seizure disorders such as epilepsy. The BS mutant parabss1, caused by a gain-of-function mutation of the voltage-gated Na+ channel gene, is extremely seizure-sensitive with phenotypes that have proven difficult to ameliorate by anti-epileptic drug feeding or by seizure-suppressor mutation. It has been presented as a model for intractable human epilepsy. Here we show that cacophony (cacTS2), a mutation of the Drosophila presynaptic Ca++ channel ?1 subunit gene, is a particularly potent seizure-suppressor mutation, reverting seizure-like phenotypes for parabss1 and other BS mutants. Seizure-like phenotypes for parabss1 may be suppressed by as much as 90% in double mutant combinations with cacTS2. Unexpectedly, we find that parabss1 also reciprocally suppresses cacTS2 seizure-like phenotypes. The cacTS2 mutant displays these seizure-like behaviors and spontaneous high-frequency action potential firing transiently after exposure to high temperature. We find that this seizure-like behavior in cacTS2 is ameliorated by 85% in double mutant combinations with parabss1.
Project description:Neurotransmission at chemical synapses involves regulated exocytosis of neurotransmitter from the presynaptic terminal. Neurotransmitter release is thought to be triggered by calcium influx through specific classes of voltage-gated calcium channels. Here we report genetic and functional analysis implicating a specific calcium channel gene product in neurotransmitter release. We have isolated a temperature-sensitive paralytic allele of the Drosophila calcium channel alpha1 subunit gene, cacophony (cac). This mutant, referred to as cac(TS2), allows functional analysis of synaptic transmission after acute perturbation of a specific alpha1 subunit. Electrophysiological analysis at neuromuscular synapses revealed that neurotransmitter release in cac(TS2) is markedly reduced at elevated temperatures, indicating that cac encodes a primary alpha1 subunit functioning in synaptic transmission. These observations further define the molecular basis of voltage-gated calcium entry at synapses and provide a new starting point for further genetic analysis of synaptic mechanisms.
Project description:Manipulating gene function cell type-specifically is a common experimental goal in Drosophila research and has been central to studies of neural development, circuit computation, and behavior. However, current cell type-specific gene disruption techniques in flies often reduce gene activity incompletely or rely on cell division. Here we describe FlpStop, a generalizable tool for conditional gene disruption and rescue in post-mitotic cells. In proof-of-principle experiments, we manipulated apterous, a regulator of wing development. Next, we produced conditional null alleles of Glutamic acid decarboxylase 1 (Gad1) and Resistant to dieldrin (Rdl), genes vital for GABAergic neurotransmission, as well as cacophony (cac) and paralytic (para), voltage-gated ion channels central to neuronal excitability. To demonstrate the utility of this approach, we manipulated cac in a specific visual interneuron type and discovered differential regulation of calcium signals across subcellular compartments. Thus, FlpStop will facilitate investigations into the interactions between genes, circuits, and computation.
Project description:Autophagy helps deliver sequestered intracellular cargo to lysosomes for proteolytic degradation and thereby maintains cellular homeostasis by preventing accumulation of toxic substances in cells. In a forward mosaic screen in Drosophila designed to identify genes required for neuronal function and maintenance, we identified multiple cacophony (cac) mutant alleles. They exhibit an age-dependent accumulation of autophagic vacuoles (AVs) in photoreceptor terminals and eventually a degeneration of the terminals and surrounding glia. cac encodes an ?1 subunit of a Drosophila voltage-gated calcium channel (VGCC) that is required for synaptic vesicle fusion with the plasma membrane and neurotransmitter release. Here, we show that cac mutant photoreceptor terminals accumulate AV-lysosomal fusion intermediates, suggesting that Cac is necessary for the fusion of AVs with lysosomes, a poorly defined process. Loss of another subunit of the VGCC, ?2? or straightjacket (stj), causes phenotypes very similar to those caused by the loss of cac, indicating that the VGCC is required for AV-lysosomal fusion. The role of VGCC in AV-lysosomal fusion is evolutionarily conserved, as the loss of the mouse homologues, Cacna1a and Cacna2d2, also leads to autophagic defects in mice. Moreover, we find that CACNA1A is localized to the lysosomes and that loss of lysosomal Cacna1a in cerebellar cultured neurons leads to a failure of lysosomes to fuse with endosomes and autophagosomes. Finally, we show that the lysosomal CACNA1A but not the plasma-membrane resident CACNA1A is required for lysosomal fusion. In summary, we present a model in which the VGCC plays a role in autophagy by regulating the fusion of AVs with lysosomes through its calcium channel activity and hence functions in maintaining neuronal homeostasis.
Project description:As social media replace traditional communication channels, we are often exposed to too much information to process. The presence of too many participants, for example, can turn online public spaces into noisy, overcrowded fora where no meaningful conversation can be held. Here, we analyse a large dataset of public chat logs from Twitch, a popular video-streaming platform, in order to examine how information overload affects online group communication. We measure structural and textual features of conversations such as user output, interaction and information content per message across a wide range of information loads. Our analysis reveals the existence of a transition from a conversational state to a cacophony-a state with lower per capita participation, more repetition and less information per message. This study provides a quantitative basis for further studies of the social effects of information overload, and may guide the design of more resilient online conversation systems.
Project description:Abstract Tethered flies allow studies of biomechanics and electrophysiology of flight control. We performed microelectrode recordings of spikes in an indirect flight muscle (the dorsal longitudinal muscle, DLMa) coupled with acoustic analysis of wing beat frequency (WBF) via microphone signals. Simultaneous electrophysiological recording of direct and indirect flight muscles has been technically challenging; however, the WBF is thought to reflect in a one-to-one relationship with spiking activity in a subset of direct flight muscles, including muscle m1b. Therefore, our approach enables systematic mutational analysis for changes in temporal features of electrical activity of motor neurons innervating subsets of direct and indirect flight muscles. Here, we report the consequences of specific ion channel disruptions on the spiking activity of myogenic DLMs (firing at ?5 Hz) and the corresponding WBF (?200 Hz). We examined mutants of the genes enconding: 1) voltage-gated Ca(2+) channels (cacophony, cac), 2) Ca(2+)-activated K(+) channels (slowpoke, slo), and 3) voltage-gated K(+) channels (Shaker, Sh) and their auxiliary subunits (Hyperkinetic, Hk and quiver, qvr). We found flight initiation in response to an air puff was severely disrupted in both cac and slo mutants. However, once initiated, slo flight was largely unaltered, whereas cac displayed disrupted DLM firing rates and WBF. Sh, Hk, and qvr mutants were able to maintain normal DLM firing rates, despite increased WBF. Notably, defects in the auxiliary subunits encoded by Hk and qvr could lead to distinct consequences, that is, disrupted DLM firing rhythmicity, not observed in Sh. Our mutant analysis of direct and indirect flight muscle activities indicates that the two motor activity patterns may be independently modified by specific ion channel mutations, and that this approach can be extended to other dipteran species and additional motor programs, such as electroconvulsive stimulation-induced seizures.