Mushroom body neuronal remodelling is necessary for short-term but not for long-term courtship memory in Drosophila

Eur J Neurosci. 2012 Jun;35(11):1684-91. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2012.08103.x. Epub 2012 May 9.


The remodelling of neurons during their development is considered necessary for their normal function. One fundamental mechanism involved in this remodelling process in both vertebrates and invertebrates is axon pruning. A well-documented case of such neuronal remodelling is the developmental axon pruning of mushroom body γ neurons that occurs during metamorphosis in Drosophila. The γ neurons undergo pruning of larval-specific dendrites and axons at metamorphosis, followed by their regrowth as adult-specific dendrites and axons. We recently revealed a molecular cascade required for this pruning. The nuclear receptor ftz-f1 activates the expression of the steroid hormone receptor EcR-B1, a key component for γ remodelling, and represses expression of Hr39, an ftz-f1 homologous gene. If ectopically expressed in the γ neurons, HR39 inhibits normal pruning, probably by competing with endogenous FTZ-F1, which results in decreased EcR-B1 expression. The mushroom bodies are a bilaterally symmetric structure in the larval and adult brain and are involved in the processing of different types of olfactory memory. How memory is affected in pruning-deficient adult flies that possess larval-stage neuronal circuitry will help to explain the functional role of neuron remodelling. Flies overexpressing Hr39 are viable as adults and make it possible to assess the requirement for wild-type mushroom body pruning in memory. While blocking mushroom body neuron remodelling impaired memory after short-term courtship conditioning, long-term memory was normal. These results show that larval pruning is necessary for adult memory and that expression of courtship short-term memory and long-term memory may be parallel and independent.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / cytology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / growth & development*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology
  • Female
  • Male
  • Memory, Long-Term / physiology*
  • Mushroom Bodies / cytology
  • Mushroom Bodies / growth & development*
  • Mushroom Bodies / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / physiology*