Synaptic transmission in neurons that express the Drosophila atypical soluble guanylyl cyclases, Gyc-89Da and Gyc-89Db, is necessary for the successful completion of larval and adult ecdysis

David Morton, Judith A. Stewart, Kristofor K. Langlais, Rachel A. Clemens-Grisham, Anke Vermehren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Scopus citations


Insect ecdysis is a precisely coordinated series of behavioral and hormonal events that occur at the end of each molt. A great deal is known about the hormonal events that underlie this process, although less is known about the neuronal circuitry involved. In this study we identified two populations of neurons that are required for larval and adult ecdyses in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster (Meigen). These neurons were identified by using the upstream region of two genes that code for atypical soluble guanylyl cyclases to drive tetanus toxin in the neurons that express these cyclases to block their synaptic activity. Expression of tetanus toxin in neurons that express Gyc-89Da blocked adult eclosion whereas expression of tetanus toxin in neurons that express Gyc-89Db prevented the initiation of the first larval ecdysis. Expression of tetanus toxin in the Gyc-89Da neurons also resulted in about 50% lethality just prior to pupariation; however, this was probably due to suffocation in the food as lethality was prevented by stopping the larvae from burrowing deep within the food. This result is consistent with our model that the atypical soluble guanylyl cyclases can act as molecular oxygen detectors. The expression pattern of these cyclases did not overlap with any of the neurons containing peptides known to regulate ecdysis and eclosion behaviors. By using the conditional expression of tetanus toxin we were also able to demonstrate that synaptic activity in the Gyc-89Da and Gyc-89Db neurons is required during early adult development for adult eclosion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1645-1656
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - May 2008


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)

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