Ion channels to inactivate neurons in Drosophila

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Ion channels are the determinants of excitability; therefore, manipulation of their levels and properties provides an opportunity for the investigator to modulate neuronal and circuit function. There are a number of ways to suppress electrical activity in Drosophila neurons, for instance, over-expression of potassium channels (i.e. Shaker Kv1, Shaw Kv3, Kir2.1 and DORK) that are open at resting membrane potential. This will result in increased potassium efflux and membrane hyperpolarisation setting resting membrane potential below the threshold required to fire action potentials. Alternatively over-expression of other channels, pumps or co-transporters that result in a hyperpolarised membrane potential will also prevent firing. Lastly, neurons can be inactivated by, disrupting or reducing the level of functional voltage-gated sodium (Nav1 paralytic) or calcium (Cav2 cacophony) channels that mediate the depolarisation phase of action potentials. Similarly, strategies involving the opposite channel manipulation should allow net depolarisation and hyperexcitation in a given neuron. These changes in ion channel expression can be brought about by the versatile transgenic (i.e. Gal4/UAS based) systems available in Drosophila allowing fine temporal and spatial control of (channel) transgene expression. These systems are making it possible to electrically inactivate (or hyperexcite) any neuron or neural circuit in the fly brain, and much like an exquisite lesion experiment, potentially elucidate whatever interesting behaviour or phenotype each network mediates. These techniques are now being used in Drosophila to reprogram electrical activity of well-defined circuits and bring about robust and easily quantifiable changes in behaviour, allowing different models and hypotheses to be rapidly tested.
Translated title of the contributionIon channels to inactivate neurons in Drosophila
Original languageEnglish
Article number13
Pages (from-to)1 - 10
Number of pages10
JournalFrontiers in Molecular Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2009

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Other: Hodge JJ

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