Regulation of modulatory cell activity across olfactory structures in Drosophila melanogaster
All centralized nervous systems possess modulatory neurons that arborize broadly across multiple brain regions. Such modulatory systems are critical for proper sensory, motor, and cognitive processing. How single modulatory neurons integrate into circuits within their target destination remains largely unexplored due to difficulties in both labeling individual cells and imaging across distal parts of the CNS. Here, we take advantage of an identified modulatory neuron in Drosophila that arborizes in multiple olfactory neuropils. We demonstrate that this serotonergic neuron has opposing odor responses in its neurites of the antennal lobe and lateral horn, first and second order olfactory neuropils respectively. Specifically, processes of this neuron in the antennal lobe have responses that are inhibitory and odor-independent, while lateral horn responses are excitatory and odor-specific. The results show that widespread modulatory neurons may not function purely as integrate-and-fire cells, but rather their transmitter release is locally regulated based on neuropil. As nearly all vertebrate and invertebrate neurons are subject to synaptic inputs along their dendro-axonic axis, it is likely that our findings generalize across phylogeny and other broadly-projecting modulatory systems.
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