Dopamine dynamics and signaling in Drosophila: an overview of genes, drugs and behavioral paradigms

Exp Anim. 2014;63(2):107-19. doi: 10.1538/expanim.63.107.


Changes in dopamine (DA) signaling have been implicated in a number of human neurologic and psychiatric disorders. Similarly, defects in DA signaling in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, have also been associated with several behavioral defects. As most genes involved in DA synthesis, transport, secretion, and signaling are conserved between species, Drosophila is a powerful genetic model organism to study the regulation of DA signaling in vivo. In this review, we will provide an overview of the genes and drugs that regulate DA biology in Drosophila. Furthermore, we will discuss the behavioral paradigms that are regulated by DA signaling in flies. By analyzing the genes and neuronal circuits that govern such behaviors using sophisticated genetic, pharmacologic, electrophysiologic, and imaging approaches in Drosophila, we will likely gain a better understanding about how this neuromodulator regulates motor tasks and cognition in humans.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Circadian Rhythm / genetics
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Dopamine / physiology*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Genes, Insect / genetics*
  • Genes, Insect / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Insect Proteins / genetics
  • Learning / physiology
  • Memory / physiology
  • Mice
  • Models, Genetic
  • Motor Activity / genetics
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / physiology*
  • Pigmentation / genetics
  • Pigments, Biological / genetics
  • Rats
  • Signal Transduction / genetics*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Insect Proteins
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Pigments, Biological
  • cuticle proteins, insects
  • Dopamine