Chemical signalling in the Drosophila brain : GABA, short neuropeptide F and their receptors

Sammanfattning: Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and short neuropeptide F (sNPF) are widespread signalling molecules in the brain of insects. In order to understand more about the signalling and to some extent start to unravel the functional roles of these two substances, this study has examined the locations of the transmitters and their receptors in the brain of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster using immunocytochemistry in combination with Gal4/UAS technique. The main focus is GABA and sNPF in feeding circuits and in the olfactory system. We found both GABA receptor types in neurons in many important areas of the Drosophila brain including the antennal lobe, mushroom body and the central body complex. The metabotropic GABAB receptor (GABABR) is expressed in a pattern similar to the ionotropic GABAAR, but some distribution differences can be distinguished (paper I). The insulin producing cells contain only GABABR, whereas the GABAAR is localized on neighbouring neurons. We found that GABA regulates the production and release of insulin-like peptides via GABABRs (paper II). The roles of sNPFs in feeding and growth have previously been established, but the mechanisms behind this are unclear. We mapped the distribution of sNPF with antisera to the sNPF precursor and found the peptide in a large variety of interneurons, including the Kenyon cells of the mushroom bodies, as well as in olfactory sensory neurons that send axons to the antennal lobe (paper III). We also mapped the distribution of the sNPF receptor in larval tissues and found localization in six median neurosecretory cells that are not insulin-producing cells, in neuronal branches in the larval antennal lobe and in processes innervating the mushroom bodies (paper IV). In summary, we have studied two different signal substances in the Drosophila brain (GABA and sNPF) in some detail. We found that these substances and their receptors are widespread, that both sNPF and GABA act in very diverse systems and that they presumably play roles in feeding, metabolism and olfaction.