Origins of Cell-Type-Specific Olfactory Processing in the Drosophila Mushroom Body Circuit

Neuron. 2017 Jul 19;95(2):357-367.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.06.039.


How cell-type-specific physiological properties shape neuronal functions in a circuit remains poorly understood. We addressed this issue in the Drosophila mushroom body (MB), a higher olfactory circuit, where neurons belonging to distinct glomeruli in the antennal lobe feed excitation to three types of intrinsic neurons, α/β, α'/β', and γ Kenyon cells (KCs). Two-photon optogenetics and intracellular recording revealed that whereas glomerular inputs add similarly in all KCs, spikes were generated most readily in α'/β' KCs. This cell type was also the most competent in recruiting GABAergic inhibition fed back by anterior paired lateral neuron, which responded to odors either locally within a lobe or globally across all lobes depending on the strength of stimuli. Notably, as predicted from these physiological properties, α'/β' KCs had the highest odor detection speed, sensitivity, and discriminability. This enhanced discrimination required proper GABAergic inhibition. These results link cell-type-specific mechanisms and functions in the MB circuit.

Keywords: Drosophila; cell-type specificity; electrophysiology; mushroom body; olfactory processing; synaptic integration; two-photon optogenetics.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology
  • Mushroom Bodies / physiology*
  • Neuroimaging / methods
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Olfactory Bulb / physiology*
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques / methods
  • Smell*
  • Synapses / metabolism


  • Calcium