Project description:The Drosophila ventral nerve cord (VNC) receives and processes descending signals from the brain to produce a variety of coordinated locomotor outputs. It also integrates sensory information from the periphery and sends ascending signals to the brain. We used single-cell transcriptomics to generate an unbiased classification of cellular diversity in the VNC of five-day old adult flies. We produced an atlas of 26,000 high-quality cells, representing more than 100 transcriptionally distinct cell types. The predominant gene signatures defining neuronal cell types reflect shared developmental histories based on the neuroblast from which cells were derived, as well as their birth order. The relative position of cells along the anterior-posterior axis could also be assigned using adult Hox gene expression. This single-cell transcriptional atlas of the adult fly VNC will be a valuable resource for future studies of neurodevelopment and behavior.
Project description:The Drosophila ventral nerve cord (VNC) receives and processes descending signals from the brain to produce a variety of coordinated locomotor outputs. It also integrates sensory information from the periphery and sends ascending signals to the brain. We used single-cell transcriptomics to generate an unbiased classification of cellular diversity in the VNC of five-day old adult flies. We produced an atlas of 26,000 high-quality cells, representing more than 100 transcriptionally distinct cell types. The predominant gene signatures defining neuronal cell types reflect shared developmental histories based on the neuroblast from which cells were derived, as well as their birth order. Cells could also be assigned to specific neuromeres using adult Hox gene expression. This single-cell transcriptional atlas of the adult fly VNC will be a valuable resource for future studies of neurodevelopment and behavior. Overall design: scRNA-seq with 10x Genomics Chromium 3' v2 of the Drosophila melanogaster adult ventral nerve cord from females and males
Project description:To understand neural circuits that control limbs, one must measure their activity during behavior. Until now this goal has been challenging, because limb premotor and motor circuits have been largely inaccessible for large-scale recordings in intact, moving animals-a constraint that is true for both vertebrate and invertebrate models. Here, we introduce a method for 2-photon functional imaging from the ventral nerve cord (VNC) of behaving adult Drosophila melanogaster. We use this method to reveal patterns of activity across nerve cord populations during grooming and walking and to uncover the functional encoding of moonwalker ascending neurons (MANs), moonwalker descending neurons (MDNs), and a previously uncharacterized class of locomotion-associated A1 descending neurons. Finally, we develop a genetic reagent to destroy the indirect flight muscles and to facilitate experimental access to the VNC. Taken together, these approaches enable the direct investigation of circuits associated with complex limb movements.
Project description:Background:A median, segmented, annelid nerve cord has repeatedly been compared to the arthropod and vertebrate nerve cords and became the most used textbook representation of the annelid nervous system. Recent phylogenomic analyses, however, challenge the hypothesis that a subepidermal rope-ladder-like ventral nerve cord (VNC) composed of a paired serial chain of ganglia and somata-free connectives represents either a plesiomorphic or a typical condition in annelids. Results:Using a comparative approach by combining phylogenomic analyses with morphological methods (immunohistochemistry and CLSM, histology and TEM), we compiled a comprehensive dataset to reconstruct the evolution of the annelid VNC. Our phylogenomic analyses generally support previous topologies. However, the so far hard-to-place Apistobranchidae and Psammodrilidae are now incorporated among the basally branching annelids with high support. Based on this topology we reconstruct an intraepidermal VNC as the ancestral state in Annelida. Thus, a subepidermal ladder-like nerve cord clearly represents a derived condition. Conclusions:Based on the presented data, a ladder-like appearance of the ventral nerve cord evolved repeatedly, and independently of the transition from an intraepidermal to a subepidermal cord during annelid evolution. Our investigations thereby propose an alternative set of neuroanatomical characteristics for the last common ancestor of Annelida or perhaps even Spiralia.
Project description:The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster is an important model organism for neuroscience with a wide array of genetic tools that enable the mapping of individual neurons and neural subtypes. Brain templates are essential for comparative biological studies because they enable analyzing many individuals in a common reference space. Several central brain templates exist for Drosophila, but every one is either biased, uses sub-optimal tissue preparation, is imaged at low resolution, or does not account for artifacts. No publicly available Drosophila ventral nerve cord template currently exists. In this work, we created high-resolution templates of the Drosophila brain and ventral nerve cord using the best-available technologies for imaging, artifact correction, stitching, and template construction using groupwise registration. We evaluated our central brain template against the four most competitive, publicly available brain templates and demonstrate that ours enables more accurate registration with fewer local deformations in shorter time.
Project description:Given the numerous hypotheses concerning arthropod phylogeny, independent data are needed to supplement knowledge based on traditional external morphology and modern molecular sequence information. One promising approach involves comparisons of the structure and development of the nervous system. Along these lines, the morphology of serotonin-immunoreactive neurons in the ventral nerve cord has been investigated in numerous tetraconate taxa (Crustacea and Hexapoda). It has been shown that these neurons can be identified individually due to their comparably low number, characteristic soma position, and neurite morphology, thus making it possible to establish homologies at the single cell level. Within Chilopoda (centipedes), detailed analyses of major branching patterns of serotonin-immunoreactive neurons are missing, but are crucial for developing meaningful conclusions on the homology of single cells.In the present study, we re-investigated the distribution and projection patterns of serotonin-immunoreactive neurons in the ventral nerve cord of three centipede species: Scutigera coleoptrata, Lithobius forficatus, and Scolopendra oraniensis. The centipede serotonergic system in the ventral nerve cord contains defined groups of individually identifiable neurons. An anterior and two posterior immunoreactive neurons per hemiganglion with contralateral projections, a pair of ipsilateral projecting lateral neurons (an autapomorphic character for Chilopoda), as well as a postero-lateral group of an unclear number of cells are present in the ground pattern of Chilopoda.Comparisons to the patterns of serotonin-immunoreactive neurons of tetraconate taxa support the homology of anterior and posterior neurons. Our results thus support a sister group relationship of Myriapoda and Tetraconata and, further, a mandibulate ground pattern of individually identifiable serotonin-immunoreactive neurons in the ventral nerve cord. Medial neurons are not considered to be part of the tetraconate ground pattern, but could favor the 'Miracrustacea hypothesis', uniting Remipedia, Cephalocarida, and Hexapoda.
Project description:Panarthropods are typified by disparate grades of neurological organization reflecting a complex evolutionary history. The fossil record offers a unique opportunity to reconstruct early character evolution of the nervous system via exceptional preservation in extinct representatives. Here we describe the neurological architecture of the ventral nerve cord (VNC) in the upper-stem group euarthropod Chengjiangocaris kunmingensis from the early Cambrian Xiaoshiba Lagerstätte (South China). The VNC of C. kunmingensis comprises a homonymous series of condensed ganglia that extend throughout the body, each associated with a pair of biramous limbs. Submillimetric preservation reveals numerous segmental and intersegmental nerve roots emerging from both sides of the VNC, which correspond topologically to the peripheral nerves of extant Priapulida and Onychophora. The fuxianhuiid VNC indicates that ancestral neurological features of Ecdysozoa persisted into derived members of stem-group Euarthropoda but were later lost in crown-group representatives. These findings illuminate the VNC ground pattern in Panarthropoda and suggest the independent secondary loss of cycloneuralian-like neurological characters in Tardigrada and Euarthropoda.
Project description:During embryonic development, Drosophila macrophages (haemocytes) undergo a series of stereotypical migrations to disperse throughout the embryo. One major migratory route is along the ventral nerve cord (VNC), where haemocytes are required for the correct development of this tissue. We show, for the first time, that a reciprocal relationship exists between haemocytes and the VNC and that defects in nerve cord development prevent haemocyte migration along this structure. Using live imaging, we demonstrate that the axonal guidance cue Slit and its receptor Robo are both required for haemocyte migration, but signalling is not autonomously required in haemocytes. We show that the failure of haemocyte migration along the VNC in slit mutants is not due to a lack of chemotactic signals within this structure, but rather to a failure in its detachment from the overlying epithelium, creating a physical barrier to haemocyte migration. This block of haemocyte migration in turn disrupts the formation of the dorsoventral channels within the VNC, further highlighting the importance of haemocyte migration for correct neural development. This study illustrates the important role played by the three-dimensional environment in directing cell migration in vivo and reveals an intriguing interplay between the developing nervous system and the blood cells within the fly, demonstrating that their development is both closely coupled and interdependent.
Project description:Although mosquito genome projects have uncovered orthologues of many known developmental regulatory genes, extremely little is known about mosquito development. In this study, the role of semaphorin-1a (sema1a) was investigated during vector mosquito embryonic ventral nerve cord development. Expression of sema1a and the plexin A (plexA) receptor are detected in the embryonic ventral nerve cords of Aedes aegypti (dengue vector) and Anopheles gambiae (malaria vector), suggesting that Sema1a signaling may regulate mosquito nervous system development. Analysis of sema1a function was investigated through siRNA-mediated knockdown in A. aegypti embryos. Knockdown of sema1a during A. aegypti development results in a number of nerve cord phenotypes, including thinning, breakage, and occasional fusion of the longitudinal connectives, thin or absent commissures, and general distortion of the nerve cord. Although analysis of Drosophila melanogaster sema1a loss-of-function mutants uncovered many similar phenotypes, aspects of the longitudinal phenotypes differed between D. melanogaster and A. aegypti. The results of this investigation suggest that Sema1a is required for development of the insect ventral nerve cord, but that the developmental roles of this guidance molecule have diverged in dipteran insects.
Project description:Octopamine is an endogenous biogenic amine neurotransmitter, neurohormone, and neuromodulator in invertebrates and has functional analogy with norepinephrine in vertebrates. Fast-scan cyclic voltammetry (FSCV) can detect rapid changes in neurotransmitters, but FSCV has not been optimized for octopamine detection in situ. The goal of this study was to characterize octopamine release in the ventral nerve cord of Drosophila larvae for the first time. A FSCV waveform was optimized so that the potential for octopamine oxidation would not be near the switching potential where interferences can occur. Endogenous octopamine release was stimulated by genetically inserting either the ATP sensitive channel, P2X2, or the red-light sensitive channelrhodopsin, CsChrimson, into cells expressing tyrosine decarboxylase (TDC), an octopamine synthesis enzyme. To ensure that release is due to octopamine and not the precursor tyramine, the octopamine synthesis inhibitor disulfiram was applied, and the signal decreased by 80%. Stimulated release was vesicular, and a 2 s continuous light stimulation of CsChrimson evoked 0.22 ± 0.03 μM of octopamine release in the larval ventral nerve cord. Repeated stimulations were stable with 2 or 5 min interstimulation times. With pulsed stimulations, the release was dependent on the frequency of applied light pulse. An octopamine transporter has not been identified, and blockers of the dopamine transporter and serotonin transporter had no significant effect on the clearance time of octopamine, suggesting that they do not take up octopamine. This study shows that octopamine can be monitored in Drosophila, facilitating future studies of how octopamine release functions in the insect brain.