The propensity for consuming ethanol in Drosophila requires rutabaga adenylyl cyclase expression within mushroom body neurons

Genes Brain Behav. 2012 Aug;11(6):727-39. doi: 10.1111/j.1601-183X.2012.00810.x. Epub 2012 Jun 15.


Alcohol activates reward systems through an unknown mechanism, in some cases leading to alcohol abuse and dependence. Herein, we utilized a two-choice Capillary Feeder assay to address the neural and molecular basis for ethanol self-administration in Drosophila melanogaster. Wild-type Drosophila shows a significant preference for food containing between 5% and 15% ethanol. Preferred ethanol self-administration does not appear to be due to caloric advantage, nor due to perceptual biases, suggesting a hedonic bias for ethanol exists in Drosophila. Interestingly, rutabaga adenylyl cyclase expression within intrinsic mushroom body neurons is necessary for robust ethanol self-administration. The expression of rutabaga in mushroom bodies is also required for both appetitive and aversive olfactory associative memories, suggesting that reinforced behavior has an important role in the ethanol self-administration in Drosophila. However, rutabaga expression is required more broadly within the mushroom bodies for the preference for ethanol-containing food than for olfactory memories reinforced by sugar reward. Together these data implicate cAMP signaling and behavioral reinforcement for preferred ethanol self-administration in D. melanogaster.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenylyl Cyclases / genetics*
  • Adenylyl Cyclases / metabolism
  • Alcohol Drinking / genetics
  • Alcohol Drinking / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Central Nervous System Depressants / pharmacology
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics*
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism
  • Drosophila melanogaster / drug effects
  • Drosophila melanogaster / enzymology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Ethanol / pharmacology*
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mushroom Bodies / cytology
  • Mushroom Bodies / physiology*
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / enzymology*
  • Reinforcement, Psychology


  • Central Nervous System Depressants
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Ethanol
  • Adenylyl Cyclases
  • Rut protein, Drosophila