Genes and circuits of courtship behaviour in Drosophila males

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2013 Oct;14(10):681-92. doi: 10.1038/nrn3567.


In Drosophila melanogaster, the causal links among a complex behaviour, single neurons and single genes can be demonstrated through experimental manipulations. A key player in establishing the male courtship circuitry is the fruitless (fru) gene, the expression of which yields the FruM proteins in a subset of male but not female neurons. FruM probably regulates chromatin states, leading to single-neuron sex differences and, consequently, a sexually dimorphic circuitry. The mutual connections among fru-expressing neurons--including primary sensory afferents, central interneurons such as the P1 neuron cluster that triggers courtship, and courtship motor pattern generators--probably form the core portion of the male courtship circuitry.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Central Nervous System / cytology
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism*
  • Courtship*
  • Drosophila
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics*
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism
  • Female
  • Male
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Neurons / classification
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • fru protein, Drosophila