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Neuromodulation of Courtship Drive through Tyramine-Responsive Neurons in the Drosophila Brain.


Neuromodulators influence the activities of collections of neurons and have profound impacts on animal behavior. Male courtship drive is complex and subject to neuromodulatory control. Using the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, we identified neurons in the brain (inferior posterior slope; IPS) that impact courtship drive and were controlled by tyramine-a biogenic amine related to dopamine, whose roles in most animals are enigmatic. We knocked out a tyramine-specific receptor, TyrR, which was expressed in IPS neurons. Loss of TyrR led to a striking elevation in courtship activity between males. This effect occurred only in the absence of females, as TyrR(Gal4) mutant males exhibited a wild-type preference for females. Artificial hyperactivation of IPS neurons caused a large increase in male-male courtship, whereas suppression of IPS activity decreased male-female courtship. We conclude that TyrR is a receptor for tyramine, and suggest that it serves to curb high levels of courtship activity through functioning as an inhibitory neuromodulator.

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