Physiological and morphological characterization of local interneurons in the Drosophila antennal lobe

J Neurophysiol. 2010 Aug;104(2):1007-19. doi: 10.1152/jn.00249.2010. Epub 2010 May 26.


The Drosophila antennal lobe (AL) has become an excellent model for studying early olfactory processing mechanisms. Local interneurons (LNs) connect a large number of glomeruli and are ideally positioned to increase computational capabilities of odor information processing in the AL. Although the neural circuit of the Drosophila AL has been intensively studied at both the input and the output level, the internal circuit is not yet well understood. An unambiguous characterization of LNs is essential to remedy this lack of knowledge. We used whole cell patch-clamp recordings and characterized four classes of LNs in detail using electrophysiological and morphological properties at the single neuron level. Each class of LN displayed unique characteristics in intrinsic electrophysiological properties, showing differences in firing patterns, degree of spike adaptation, and amplitude of spike afterhyperpolarization. Notably, one class of LNs had characteristic burst firing properties, whereas the others were tonically active. Morphologically, neurons from three classes innervated almost all glomeruli, while LNs from one class innervated a specific subpopulation of glomeruli. Three-dimensional reconstruction analyses revealed general characteristics of LN morphology and further differences in dendritic density and distribution within specific glomeruli between the different classes of LNs. Additionally, we found that LNs labeled by a specific enhancer trap line (GAL4-Krasavietz), which had previously been reported as cholinergic LNs, were mostly GABAergic. The current study provides a systematic characterization of olfactory LNs in Drosophila and demonstrates that a variety of inhibitory LNs, characterized by class-specific electrophysiological and morphological properties, construct the neural circuit of the AL.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Arthropod Antennae / cytology*
  • Biophysics
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase / metabolism
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Drosophila
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Electric Stimulation / methods
  • Female
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Interneurons / cytology*
  • Interneurons / physiology*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Nerve Net / cytology
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Numerical Analysis, Computer-Assisted
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques / methods
  • Peptides / metabolism
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Peptides
  • GALA peptide
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase