Drosophila melanogaster females respond to male courtship by either rejecting the male or allowing copulation. The neural mechanisms underlying these female behaviors likely involve the integration of sensory information in the brain. Because doublesex (dsx) controls other aspects of female differentiation, we asked whether dsx-expressing neurons mediate virgin female receptivity to courting males. Using intersectional techniques to manipulate the activities of defined subsets of dsx-expressing neurons, we found that activation of neurons in either the pCd or pC1 clusters promotes receptivity, while silencing these neurons makes females unreceptive. Furthermore, pCd and pC1 neurons physiologically respond to the male-specific pheromone cis-vaccenyl acetate (cVA), while pC1 neurons also respond to male courtship song. The pCd and pC1 neurons expressing dsx in females do not express transcripts from the fruitless (fru) P1 promoter. Thus, virgin female receptivity is controlled at least in part by neurons that are distinct from those governing male courtship.
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