Female contact modulates male aggression via a sexually dimorphic GABAergic circuit in Drosophila
Intraspecific male-male aggression, which is important for sexual selection, is regulated by environment, experience and internal states through largely undefined molecular and cellular mechanisms. To understand the basic neural pathway underlying the modulation of this innate behavior, we established a behavioral assay in Drosophila melanogaster and investigated the relationship between sexual experience and aggression. In the presence of mating partners, adult male flies exhibited elevated levels of aggression, which was largely suppressed by prior exposure to females via a sexually dimorphic neural mechanism. The suppression involved the ability of male flies to detect females by contact chemosensation through the pheromone-sensing ion channel ppk29 and was mediated by male-specific GABAergic neurons acting on the GABA A receptor RDL in target cells. Silencing or activating this circuit led to dis-inhibition or elimination of sex-related aggression, respectively. We propose that the GABAergic inhibition represents a critical cellular mechanism that enables prior experience to modulate aggression. © 2014 Nature America, Inc.
Yuan, Q; Song, Y; Yang, CH; Jan, LY; Jan, YN
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