Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 179, Issue 6, pp 763–773

Genetic depletion of histamine from the nervous system of Drosophila eliminates specific visual and mechanosensory behavior

  • J. Melzig
  • S. Buchner
  • F. Wiebel
  • R. Wolf
  • E. Buchner
  • M. Burg
  • W. L. Pak
Original Papers

DOI: 10.1007/BF00207355

Cite this article as:
Melzig, J., Buchner, S., Wiebel, F. et al. J Comp Physiol A (1996) 179: 763. doi:10.1007/BF00207355

Abstract

The role of histamine as a fast neuro-transmitter of imaginai insect photoreceptors is firmly established. In adult Drosophila, histamine is also found in mechanosensory receptors of cuticular hair sensilla and in a small number of nonreceptor neurons in head and body ganglia. Here we investigate the function of histamine by immunohistochemical and behavioral analysis of mutants deficient in the hdc gene that codes for histidine decarboxylase. The allele hdcJK910 appears to be a null mutation, as histamine immunoreactivity is almost entirely eliminated. Homozygous flies are blind in various behavioral paradigms. Mutant larvae, on the other hand, show normal photokinetic responses. Thus, adult Drosophila photoreceptors most likely utilize only a single substance, histamine, as a neurotransmitter, whereas larval photoreceptors apparently employ a different transmitter. With the alleles hdcp211, hdcp217, and hdcp218, variable amounts of histamine are found in photoreceptors and mechanoreceptors, but no histamine could be detected in any of the nonreceptor neurons. These mutants show various degrees of visual and mechanosensory impairment, as determined by quantitative behavioral assays. We conclude that histamine is required for normal function of cuticular hair sensilla and for efficient grooming of the body surface. Thus, in Drosophila, histamine represents a major functional neurotransmitter for mechanosensory receptors.

Key words

Neurotransmitter Mutants Immunohistochemistry Behavior Insecta 

Abbreviations

ERG

electroretinogram

WT

wild type

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Melzig
    • 1
  • S. Buchner
    • 1
  • F. Wiebel
    • 1
  • R. Wolf
    • 1
  • E. Buchner
    • 1
  • M. Burg
    • 2
  • W. L. Pak
    • 2
  1. 1.Theodor Boveri Institut für Biowissenschaften, Lehrstuhl für Genetik, Am HublandWürzburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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