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Inverse control of turning behaviour by dopamine D1 receptor signalling in columnarwedge and ring neurons of the central complex in Drosophila

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
JournalCurrent biology : CB
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 9 Jan 2019

King's Authors


Action selection is a prerequisite for decision-making and a fundamental aspect to any
goal-directed locomotion; it requires integration of sensory signals and internal states
to translate them into action sequences. Here, we introduce a novel behavioural
analysis to study neural circuits and mechanisms underlying action selection and
decision-making in freely moving Drosophila. We discovered preferred patterns of
motor activity and turning behaviour. These patterns are impaired in FoxP mutant flies
which present an altered temporal organisation of motor actions and turning behaviour,
reminiscent of indecisiveness. Then, focusing on central complex (CX) circuits known
to integrate different sensory modalities and controlling premotor regions, we show that
action sequences and turning behaviour are regulated by dopamine D1-like receptor
(Dop1R1) signalling. Dop1R1 inputs onto CX columnar E-PG and ellipsoid body (EB)
R2/R4m ring neuron circuits, both negatively gate motor activity but inversely control
turning behaviour. While flies deficient of D1 receptor signalling present normal turning
behaviour despite decreased activity, restoring Dop1R1 level in R2/R4m-specific
circuitry affects the temporal organisation of motor actions and turning. We finally show
EB R2/R4m neurons are in contact with E-PG neurons that are thought to encode body
orientation and heading direction of the fly. These findings suggest that Dop1R1
signalling in E-PG and EB R2/4m circuits are compared against each other, thereby
modulating patterns of activity and turning behaviour for goal-directed locomotion.

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