Optical dissection of experience-dependent pre- and postsynaptic plasticity in the Drosophila brain

Cell Rep. 2015 Mar 31;10(12):2083-95. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2015.02.065. Epub 2015 Mar 26.


Drosophila represents a key model organism for dissecting neuronal circuits that underlie innate and adaptive behavior. However, this task is limited by a lack of tools to monitor physiological parameters of spatially distributed, central synapses in identified neurons. We generated transgenic fly strains that express functional fluorescent reporters targeted to either pre- or postsynaptic compartments. Presynaptic Ca(2+) dynamics are monitored using synaptophysin-coupled GCaMP3, synaptic transmission is monitored using red fluorescent synaptophysin-pHTomato, and postsynaptic Ca(2+) dynamics are visualized using GCaMP3 fused with the postsynaptic matrix protein, dHomer. Using two-photon in vivo imaging of olfactory projection neurons, odor-evoked activity across populations of synapses is visualized in the antennal lobe and the mushroom body calyx. Prolonged odor exposure causes odor-specific and differential experience-dependent changes in pre- and postsynaptic activity at both levels of olfactory processing. The approach advances the physiological analysis of synaptic connections across defined groups of neurons in intact Drosophila.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Brain / cytology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Mushroom Bodies / metabolism*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Synapses / metabolism*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*


  • Drosophila Proteins