Octopamine neuron dependent aggression requires dVGLUT from dual-transmitting neurons

Lewis M. Sherer, Elizabeth Catudio Garrett, Hannah R. Morgan, Edmond D. Brewer, Lucy A. Sirrs, Harold K. Shearin, Jessica L. Williams, Brian D. McCabe, R. Steven Stowers, Sarah J. Certel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Neuromodulators such as monoamines are often expressed in neurons that also release at least one fast-acting neurotransmitter. The release of a combination of transmitters provides both "classical" and "modulatory" signals that could produce diverse and/or complementary effects in associated circuits. Here, we establish that the majority of Drosophila octopamine (OA) neurons are also glutamatergic and identify the individual contributions of each neurotransmitter on sex-specific behaviors. Males without OA display low levels of aggression and high levels of inter-male courtship. Males deficient for dVGLUT solely in OA-glutamate neurons (OGNs) also exhibit a reduction in aggression, but without a concurrent increase in inter-male courtship. Within OGNs, a portion of VMAT and dVGLUT puncta differ in localization suggesting spatial differences in OA signaling. Our findings establish a previously undetermined role for dVGLUT in OA neurons and suggests that glutamate uncouples aggression from OA-dependent courtship-related behavior. These results indicate that dual neurotransmission can increase the efficacy of individual neurotransmitters while maintaining unique functions within a multi-functional social behavior neuronal network.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1008609
JournalPLoS Genetics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2020


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