Distribution of serotonin (5-HT) and its receptors in the insect brain with focus on the mushroom bodies: lessons from Drosophila melanogaster and Apis mellifera

Arthropod Struct Dev. 2011 Sep;40(5):381-94. doi: 10.1016/j.asd.2011.01.004. Epub 2011 Jan 25.


The biogenic amine serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) plays a key role in regulating and modulating various physiological and behavioral processes in both protostomes and deuterostomes. The specific functions of serotonin are mediated by its binding to and subsequent activation of membrane receptors. The vast majority of these receptors belong to the superfamily of G-protein-coupled receptors. We report here the in vivo expression pattern of a recently characterized 5-HT(1) receptor of the honeybee Apis mellifera (Am5-HT(1A)) in the mushroom bodies. In addition, we summarize current knowledge on the distribution of serotonin and serotonin receptor subtypes in the brain and specifically in the mushroom bodies of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and the honeybee. Functional studies in these two species have shown that serotonergic signaling participates in various behaviors including aggression, sleep, circadian rhythms, responses to visual stimuli, and associative learning. The molecular, pharmacological, and functional properties of identified 5-HT receptor subtypes from A. mellifera and D. melanogaster will also be summarized in this review.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bees / metabolism*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism*
  • Insect Proteins / metabolism*
  • Insect Proteins / physiology
  • Ligands
  • Mushroom Bodies / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Serotonin / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Serotonin / physiology
  • Serotonin / metabolism*
  • Serotonin / physiology


  • Insect Proteins
  • Ligands
  • Receptors, Serotonin
  • Serotonin