Descending neurons from the lateral accessory lobe and posterior slope in the brain of the silkmoth Bombyx mori.
ABSTRACT: A population of descending neurons connect the brain and thoracic motor center, playing a critical role in controlling behavior. We examined the anatomical organization of descending neurons (DNs) in the brain of the silkmoth Bombyx mori. Moth pheromone orientation is a good model to investigate neuronal mechanisms of behavior. Based on mass staining and single-cell staining, we evaluated the anatomical organization of neurite distribution by DNs in the brain. Dense innervation was observed in the posterior-ventral part of the brain called the posterior slope (PS). We analyzed the morphology of DNs innervating the lateral accessory lobe (LAL), which is considered important for moth olfactory behavior. We observed that all LAL DNs also innervate the PS, suggesting the integration of signals from the LAL and PS. We also identified a set of DNs innervating the PS but not the LAL. These DNs were sensitive to the sex pheromone, suggesting a role of the PS in motor control for pheromone processing. Here we discuss the organization of descending pathways for pheromone orientation.
Project description:Neural processing in the brain controls behavior through descending neurons (DNs) - neurons which carry signals from the brain to the spinal cord (or thoracic ganglia in insects). Because DNs arise from multiple circuits in the brain, the numerical simplicity and availability of genetic tools make Drosophila a tractable model for understanding descending motor control. As a first step towards a comprehensive study of descending motor control, here we estimate the number and distribution of DNs in the Drosophila brain. We labeled DNs by backfilling them with dextran dye applied to the neck connective and estimated that there are ~1100 DNs distributed in 6 clusters in Drosophila. To assess the distribution of DNs by neurotransmitters, we labeled DNs in flies in which neurons expressing the major neurotransmitters were also labeled. We found DNs belonging to every neurotransmitter class we tested: acetylcholine, GABA, glutamate, serotonin, dopamine and octopamine. Both the major excitatory neurotransmitter (acetylcholine) and the major inhibitory neurotransmitter (GABA) are employed equally; this stands in contrast to vertebrate DNs which are predominantly excitatory. By comparing the distribution of DNs in Drosophila to those reported previously in other insects, we conclude that the organization of DNs in insects is highly conserved.
Project description:Modulatory descending neurons (DNs) that link the brain to body motor circuits, including dopaminergic DNs (DA-DNs), are thought to contribute to the flexible control of behavior. Dopamine elicits locomotor-like outputs and influences neuronal excitability in isolated body motor circuits over tens of seconds to minutes, but it remains unknown how and over what time scale DA-DN activity relates to movement in behaving animals. To address this question, we identified DA-DNs in the Drosophila brain and developed an electrophysiological preparation to record and manipulate the activity of these cells during behavior. We find that DA-DN spike rates are rapidly modulated during a subset of leg movements and scale with the total speed of ongoing leg movements, whether occurring spontaneously or in response to stimuli. However, activating DA-DNs does not elicit leg movements in intact flies, nor do acute bidirectional manipulations of DA-DN activity affect the probability or speed of leg movements over a time scale of seconds to minutes. Our findings indicate that in the context of intact descending control, changes in DA-DN activity are not sufficient to influence ongoing leg movements and open the door to studies investigating how these cells interact with other descending and local neuromodulatory inputs to influence body motor output.
Project description:In most animals, the brain controls the body via a set of descending neurons (DNs) that traverse the neck. DN activity activates, maintains or modulates locomotion and other behaviors. Individual DNs have been well-studied in species from insects to primates, but little is known about overall connectivity patterns across the DN population. We systematically investigated DN anatomy in Drosophila melanogaster and created over 100 transgenic lines targeting individual cell types. We identified roughly half of all Drosophila DNs and comprehensively map connectivity between sensory and motor neuropils in the brain and nerve cord, respectively. We find the nerve cord is a layered system of neuropils reflecting the fly's capability for two largely independent means of locomotion -- walking and flight -- using distinct sets of appendages. Our results reveal the basic functional map of descending pathways in flies and provide tools for systematic interrogation of neural circuits.
Project description:Most animals including insects rely on olfaction to find their mating partners. In moths, males are attracted by female-produced sex pheromones inducing stereotyped sexual behavior. The behaviorally relevant olfactory information is processed in the primary olfactory centre, the antennal lobe (AL). Evidence is now accumulating that modulation of sex-linked behavioral output occurs through neuronal plasticity via the action of hormones and/or catecholamines. A G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) binding to 20-hydroxyecdysone, the main insect steroid hormone, and dopamine, has been identified in Drosophila (DmDopEcR), and was suggested to modulate neuronal signaling. In the male moth Agrotis ipsilon, the behavioral and central nervous responses to pheromone are age-dependent. To further unveil the mechanisms of this olfactory plasticity, we searched for DopEcR and tested its potential role in the behavioral response to sex pheromone in A. ipsilon males. Our results show that A. ipsilon DopEcR (named AipsDopEcR) is predominantly expressed in the nervous system. The corresponding protein was detected immunohistochemically in the ALs and higher brain centers including the mushroom bodies. Moreover, AipsDopEcR expression increased with age. Using a strategy of RNA interference, we also show that silencing of AipsDopEcR inhibited the behavioral response to sex pheromone in wind tunnel experiments. Altogether our results indicate that this GPCR is involved in the expression of sexual behavior in the male moth, probably by modulating the central nervous processing of sex pheromone through the action of one or both of its ligands.
Project description:The lateral accessory lobe (LAL) mediates signals from the central complex to the thoracic motor centers. The results obtained from different insects suggest that the LAL is highly relevant to the locomotion. Perhaps due to its deep location and lack of clear anatomical boundaries, few studies have focused on this brain region. Systematic data of LAL interneurons are available in the silkmoth. We here review individual neurons constituting the LAL by comparing the silkmoth and other insects. The survey through the connectivity and intrinsic organization suggests potential homology in the organization of the LAL among insects.
Project description:In insects and other animals, intraspecific communication between individuals of the opposite sex is mediated in part by chemical signals called sex pheromones. In most moth species, male moths rely heavily on species-specific sex pheromones emitted by female moths to identify and orient towards an appropriate mating partner among a large number of sympatric insect species. The silkmoth, Bombyx mori, utilizes the simplest possible pheromone system, in which a single pheromone component, (E, Z)-10,12-hexadecadienol (bombykol), is sufficient to elicit full sexual behavior. We have previously shown that the sex pheromone receptor BmOR1 mediates specific detection of bombykol in the antennae of male silkmoths. However, it is unclear whether the sex pheromone receptor is the minimally sufficient determination factor that triggers initiation of orientation behavior towards a potential mate. Using transgenic silkmoths expressing the sex pheromone receptor PxOR1 of the diamondback moth Plutella xylostella in BmOR1-expressing neurons, we show that the selectivity of the sex pheromone receptor determines the chemical response specificity of sexual behavior in the silkmoth. Bombykol receptor neurons expressing PxOR1 responded to its specific ligand, (Z)-11-hexadecenal (Z11-16:Ald), in a dose-dependent manner. Male moths expressing PxOR1 exhibited typical pheromone orientation behavior and copulation attempts in response to Z11-16:Ald and to females of P. xylostella. Transformation of the bombykol receptor neurons had no effect on their projections in the antennal lobe. These results indicate that activation of bombykol receptor neurons alone is sufficient to trigger full sexual behavior. Thus, a single gene defines behavioral selectivity in sex pheromone communication in the silkmoth. Our findings show that a single molecular determinant can not only function as a modulator of behavior but also as an all-or-nothing initiator of a complex species-specific behavioral sequence.
Project description:Infochemical production, release and detection of (Z,E)-9,11-tetradecadienyl acetate, the major component of the pheromone of the moth Spodoptera littoralis, is achieved in a novel microfluidic system designed to mimic the final step of the pheromone biosynthesis by immobilized recombinant alcohol acetyl transferase. The microfluidic system is part of an "artificial gland", i.e., a chemoemitter that comprises a microreactor connected to a microevaporator and is able to produce and release a pre-defined amount of the major component of the pheromone from the corresponding (Z,E)-9,11-tetradecadienol. Performance of the entire chemoemitter has been assessed in electrophysiological and behavioral experiments. Electroantennographic depolarizations of the pheromone produced by the chemoemitter were ca. 40% relative to that evoked by the synthetic pheromone. In a wind tunnel, the pheromone released from the evaporator elicited on males a similar attraction behavior as 3 virgin females in most of the parameters considered.
Project description:In insects, olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs), surrounded with auxiliary cells and protected by a cuticular wall, form small discrete sensory organs--the sensilla. The moth pheromone-sensitive sensillum is a well studied example of hair-like sensillum that is favorable to both experimental and modeling investigations. The model presented takes into account both the molecular processes of ORNs, i.e. the biochemical reactions and ionic currents giving rise to the receptor potential, and the cellular organization and compartmentalization of the organ represented by an electrical circuit. The number of isopotential compartments needed to describe the long dendrite bearing pheromone receptors was determined. The transduction parameters that must be modified when the number of compartments is increased were identified. This model reproduces the amplitude and time course of the experimentally recorded receptor potential. A first complete version of the model was analyzed in response to pheromone pulses of various strengths. It provided a quantitative description of the spatial and temporal evolution of the pheromone-dependent conductances, currents and potentials along the outer dendrite and served to determine the contribution of the various steps in the cascade to its global sensitivity. A second simplified version of the model, utilizing a single depolarizing conductance and leak conductances for repolarizing the ORN, was derived from the first version. It served to analyze the effects on the sensory properties of varying the electrical parameters and the size of the main sensillum parts. The consequences of the results obtained on the still uncertain mechanisms of olfactory transduction in moth ORNs--involvement or not of G-proteins, role of chloride and potassium currents--are discussed as well as the optimality of the sensillum organization, the dependence of biochemical parameters on the neuron spatial extension and the respective contributions of the biochemical and electrical parameters to the overall neuron response.
Project description:Binary cell fate decisions allow the production of distinct sister neurons from an intermediate precursor. Neurons are further diversified based on the birth order of intermediate precursors. Here we examined the interplay between binary cell fate and birth-order-dependent temporal fate in the Drosophila lateral antennal lobe (lAL) neuronal lineage. Single-cell mapping of the lAL lineage by twin-spot mosaic analysis with repressible cell markers (ts-MARCM) revealed that projection neurons (PNs) and local interneurons (LNs) are made in pairs through binary fate decisions. Forty-five types of PNs innervating distinct brain regions arise in a stereotyped sequence; however, the PNs with similar morphologies are not necessarily born in a contiguous window. The LNs are morphologically less diverse than the PNs, and the sequential morphogenetic changes in the two pairs occur independently. Sanpodo-dependent Notch activity promotes and patterns the LN fates. By contrast, Notch diversifies PN temporal fates in a Sanpodo-dispensable manner. These pleiotropic Notch actions underlie the differential temporal fate specification of twin neurons produced by common precursors within a lineage, possibly by modulating postmitotic neurons' responses to Notch-independent transcriptional cascades.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Moths have evolved highly successful mating systems, relying on species-specific mixtures of sex pheromone components for long-distance mate communication. Acyl-CoA desaturases are key enzymes in the biosynthesis of these compounds and to a large extent they account for the great diversity of pheromone structures in Lepidoptera. A novel desaturase gene subfamily that displays Delta11 catalytic activities has been highlighted to account for most of the unique pheromone signatures of the taxonomically advanced ditrysian species. To assess the mechanisms driving pheromone evolution, information is needed about the signalling machinery of primitive moths. The currant shoot borer, Lampronia capitella, is the sole reported primitive non-ditrysian moth known to use unsaturated fatty-acid derivatives as sex-pheromone. By combining biochemical and molecular approaches we elucidated the biosynthesis paths of its main pheromone component, the (Z,Z)-9,11-tetradecadien-1-ol and bring new insights into the time point of the recruitment of the key Delta11-desaturase gene subfamily in moth pheromone biosynthesis. RESULTS: The reconstructed evolutionary tree of desaturases evidenced two ditrysian-specific lineages (the Delta11 and Delta9 (18C>16C)) to have orthologs in the primitive moth L. capitella despite being absent in Diptera and other insect genomes. Four acyl-CoA desaturase cDNAs were isolated from the pheromone gland, three of which are related to Delta9-desaturases whereas the fourth cDNA clusters with Delta11-desaturases. We demonstrated that this transcript (Lca-KPVQ) exclusively accounts for both steps of desaturation involved in pheromone biosynthesis. This enzyme possesses a Z11-desaturase activity that allows transforming the palmitate precursor (C16:0) into (Z)-11-hexadecenoic acid and the (Z)-9-tetradecenoic acid into the conjugated intermediate (Z,Z)-9,11-tetradecadienoic acid. CONCLUSION: The involvement of a single Z11-desaturase in pheromone biosynthesis of a non-ditrysian moth species, supports that the duplication event leading to the origin of the Lepidoptera-specific Delta11-desaturase gene subfamily took place before radiation of ditrysian moths and their divergence from other heteroneuran lineages. Our findings uncover that this novel class of enzymes affords complex combinations of unique unsaturated fatty acyl-moieties of variable chain-lengths, regio- and stereo-specificities since early in moth history and contributes a notable innovation in the early evolution of moth-pheromones.