Regulation of Drosophila Long-Term Courtship Memory by Ecdysis Triggering Hormone

Front Neurosci. 2021 Apr 22;15:670322. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2021.670322. eCollection 2021.


Endocrine state is an important determinant of learning and memory in animals. In Drosophila, rejection of male courtship overtures by mated females leads to an aversive response manifested as courtship memory. Here we report that ecdysis triggering hormone (ETH) is an obligatory enabler of long-term courtship memory (LTM). ETH deficiency suppresses LTM, whereas augmented ETH release reduces the minimum training period required for LTM induction. ETH receptor knockdown either in the mushroom body (MB) γ lobe or in octopaminergic dorsal-anterior-lateral (DAL) neurons impairs memory performance, indicating its direct action in these brain areas. Consistent with these findings, brain exposure to ETH mobilizes calcium in MB γ lobe neuropils and DAL neurons. ETH receptor (ETHR) knockdown in the corpus allatum (CA) to create juvenile hormone (JH) deficiency also suppresses LTM, as does knockdown of the JH receptor Met in the MB γ lobe, indicating a convergence of ETH and JH signaling in this region of the brain. Our findings identify endocrine-enabled neural circuit components in the brain that are critical for persistent behavioral changes resulting from aversive social experience.

Keywords: Drosophila courtship conditioning; ecdysis triggering hormone; hormonal convergence; juvenile hormone; long-term memory; mushroom body.