The GABAergic anterior paired lateral neuron suppresses and is suppressed by olfactory learning

Nat Neurosci. 2009 Jan;12(1):53-9. doi: 10.1038/nn.2235. Epub 2008 Nov 30.


GABAergic neurotransmitter systems are important for many cognitive processes, including learning and memory. We identified a single neuron in each hemisphere of the Drosophila brain, the anterior paired lateral (APL) neuron, as a GABAergic neuron that broadly innervated the mushroom bodies. Reducing GABA synthesis in the APL neuron enhanced olfactory learning, suggesting that the APL neuron suppressed learning by releasing the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA. Functional optical-imaging experiments revealed that the APL neuron responded to both odor and electric-shock stimuli that was presented to the fly with increases of intracellular calcium and released neurotransmitter. Notably, a memory trace formed in the APL neuron by pairing odor with electric shock. This trace was detected as a reduced calcium response in the APL neuron after conditioning specifically to the trained odor. These results demonstrate a mutual suppression between the GABAergic APL neuron and olfactory learning, and emphasize the functional neuroplasticity of the GABAergic system as a result of learning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Conditioning, Psychological / physiology
  • Down-Regulation
  • Drosophila
  • Electroshock
  • Intracellular Membranes / metabolism
  • Learning / drug effects
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Memory / physiology
  • Mushroom Bodies / innervation
  • Neuronal Plasticity
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Odorants
  • Smell / physiology*
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / biosynthesis
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism*


  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Calcium