GABA-mediated inhibition in visual feedback neurons fine-tunes Drosophila male courtship

bioRxiv. 2023 Jan 25;2023.01.25.525544. doi: 10.1101/2023.01.25.525544. Preprint


Vision is critical for the regulation of mating behaviors in many species. Here, we discovered that the Drosophila ortholog of human GABA A -receptor-associated protein (GABARAP) is required to fine-tune male courtship by modulating the activity of visual feedback neurons, lamina tangential cells (Lat). GABARAP is a ubiquitin-like protein that regulates cell-surface levels of GABA A receptors. Knocking down GABARAP or GABA A receptors in Lat neurons or hyperactivating them induces male courtship toward other males. Inhibiting Lat neurons, on the other hand, delays copulation by impairing the ability of males to follow females. Remarkably, the human ortholog of Drosophila GABARAP restores function in Lat neurons. Using in vivo two-photon imaging and optogenetics, we show that Lat neurons are functionally connected to neural circuits that mediate visually-guided courtship pursuits in males. Our work reveals a novel physiological role for GABARAP in fine-tuning the activity of a visual circuit that tracks a mating partner during courtship.

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