Stress affects dopaminergic signaling pathways in Drosophila melanogaster

Stress. 2005 Jun;8(2):117-31. doi: 10.1080/10253890500147381.


Behaviors modulated by dopamine appear to be conserved across species. In the model system Drosophila melanogaster, as in mammals, dopamine modulates female sexual receptivity, a simple form of learning and responses to drugs of abuse. Synthesis, reuptake and binding of dopamine are also evolutionarily conserved. Since stress has been shown to affect dopaminergic signaling pathways in mammals, we investigated the consequences of exposure to diverse stressors on dopaminergic physiology in the fruit fly, D. melanogaster. Animals were exposed to a metabolic stress (starvation), an oxidative stress (via the superoxide anion generator paraquat) or a mechanical stress (gentle vortexing). Sexual maturity, reproductive status, gender and type of stress differentially affected survival. The stress paradigms also resulted in alterations in the activity of tyrosine hydroxylase, the rate-limiting enzyme in dopamine biosynthesis. Exposure to these stressors perturbed female sexual receptivity and ovarian development, which are modulated by dopamine, suggesting that dopaminergic physiology is affected as a consequence of stress. Transgenic Drosophila with reduced levels of neuronal dopamine displayed an altered response to these stressors, suggesting that, as in mammals, dopamine is a key element in the stress response.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Dopamine / physiology*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Male
  • Models, Animal
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Paraquat / pharmacology
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal
  • Sexual Maturation
  • Signal Transduction
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Stress, Psychological*
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase / genetics


  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase
  • Paraquat
  • Dopamine