Disruption of a behavioral sequence by targeted death of peptidergic neurons in Drosophila

Neuron. 1997 Oct;19(4):813-23. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(00)80963-0.


The neuropeptide eclosion hormone (EH) is a key regulator of insect ecdysis. We tested the role of the two EH-producing neurons in Drosophila by using an EH cell-specific enhancer to activate cell death genes reaper and head involution defective to ablate the EH cells. In the EH cell knockout flies, larval and adult ecdyses were disrupted, yet a third of the knockouts emerged as adults, demonstrating that EH has a significant but nonessential role in ecdysis. The EH cell knockouts had discrete behavioral deficits, including slow, uncoordinated eclosion and an insensitivity to ecdysis-triggering hormone. The knockouts lacked the lights-on eclosion response despite having a normal circadian eclosion rhythm. This study represents a novel approach to the dissection of neuropeptide regulation of a complex behavioral program.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Death
  • Circadian Rhythm*
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Darkness
  • Drosophila
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / physiology
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Insect Hormones / biosynthesis
  • Insect Hormones / deficiency
  • Insect Hormones / physiology*
  • Larva
  • Light
  • Luminescent Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Mutagenesis
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Neuropeptides
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Invertebrate / physiology
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / biosynthesis


  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Insect Hormones
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Neuropeptides
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • eclosion hormone