Protein kinase A (PKA) has been shown to play a role in a plethora of cellular processes ranging from development to memory formation. Its activity is mediated by the catalytic subunits whereby many species express several paralogs. Drosophila encodes three catalytic subunits (PKA-C1-3) and whereas PKA-C1 has been well studied, the functions of the other two subunits were unknown. PKA-C3 is the orthologue of mammalian PRKX/Pkare and they are structurally more closely related to each other than to other catalytic subunits within their species. PRKX is expressed in the nervous system in mice but its function is also unknown. We now show that the loss of PKA-C3 in Drosophila causes copulation defects, though the flies are active and show no defects in other courtship behaviours. This phenotype is specifically due to the loss of PKA-C3 because PKA-C1 cannot replace PKA-C3. PKA-C3 is expressed in two pairs of interneurons that send projections to the ventro-lateral protocerebrum and the mushroom bodies and that synapse onto motor neurons in the ventral nerve cord. Rescue experiments show that expression of PKA-C3 in these interneurons is sufficient for copulation, suggesting a role in relaying information from the sensory system to motor neurons to initiate copulation.
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