A critical role for Dop1-mediated dopaminergic signaling in the plasticity of behavioral and neuronal responses to sex pheromone in a moth [RESEARCH ARTICLE]

Edmundo Gassias, Nicolas Durand, Elodie Demondion, Thomas Bourgeois, Paleo Aguilar, Francoise Bozzolan, and Stephane Debernard

Most animal species, including insects, are able to modulate their responses to sexual chemosignals and this flexibility originates from the remodeling of olfactory areas under the influence of the dopaminergic system. In the moth Agrotis ipsilon, the behavioral response of males to the female-emitted sex pheromone increases throughout adult life and after a prior exposure to pheromone signal, and this change is accompanied by an increase in neuronal sensitivity within the primary olfactory centers, the antennal lobes (ALs). To identify the underlying neuromodulatory mechanisms, we examined whether this age- and experience-dependent olfactory plasticity is mediated by dopamine (DA) through the Dop1 receptor, an ortholog of the vertebrate D1-type dopamine receptors, which is positively coupled to adenylyl cyclase. We cloned A. ipsilon Dop1 (AiDop1), which is expressed predominantly in brain and especially in ALs; its knockdown induced a decrease in AL cAMP and altered sex pheromone-orientated flight. The levels of DA, AiDop1 expression and cAMP in ALs increased from the third day of adult life and at 24 and 48 h following pre-exposure to sex pheromone, and the dynamic of these changes correlated with the increased responsiveness to sex pheromone. These results demonstrate that Dop1 is required for the display of male sexual behavior and that age- and experience-related neuronal and behavioral changes are sustained by DA–Dop1 signaling that operates within ALs, probably through cAMP-dependent mechanisms in A. ipsilon. Thus, this study expands our understanding of the neuromodulatory mechanisms underlying olfactory plasticity, mechanisms that appear to be highly conserved between insects and mammals.

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