Detailed analysis of leucokinin-expressing neurons and their candidate functions in the Drosophila nervous system

Cell Tissue Res. 2010 Feb;339(2):321-36. doi: 10.1007/s00441-009-0890-y. Epub 2009 Nov 26.


The distribution of leucokinin (LK) neurons in the central nervous system (CNS) of Drosophila melanogaster was described by immunolabelling many years ago. However, no detailed underlying information of the input or output connections of their neurites was then available. Here, we provide a more accurate morphological description by employing a novel LK-specific GAL4 line that recapitulates LK expression. In order to analyse the possible afferent and efferent neural candidates of LK neurons, we used this lk-GAL4 line together with other CNS-Gal4 lines, combined with antisera against various neuropeptides or neurotransmitters. We found four kinds of LK neurons in the brain. (1) The lateral horn neurons connect the antennal glomerula to the mushroom bodies. (2) The suboesophageal neurons connect the gustatory receptors to the suboesophageal ganglia and ventral nerve cord. (3) The anterior neurons innervate the corpus cardiacum of the ring gland but LK expression is surprisingly not detectable from the third instar onwards in these neurons. (4) A set of abdominal ganglion neurons connect to the dorsal median tract in larvae and send their axons to a segmental muscle 8. Thus, the methods employed in our study can be used to identify individual neuropeptidergic neurons and thereby characterize functional cues or developmental transformations in their differentiation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / anatomy & histology*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism
  • Ganglia / metabolism
  • Larva / anatomy & histology
  • Larva / genetics
  • Larva / metabolism
  • Muscles / metabolism
  • Mushroom Bodies / metabolism
  • Neural Pathways
  • Neurites / metabolism
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Neuropeptides / biosynthesis*
  • Neuropeptides / genetics
  • Neurosecretory Systems / metabolism
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Lk protein, Drosophila
  • Neuropeptides
  • Neurotransmitter Agents