Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 200, Issue 4, pp 251–264 | Cite as

Neuroethology of male courtship in Drosophila: from the gene to behavior

  • Daisuke Yamamoto
  • Kosei Sato
  • Masayuki Koganezawa


Neurogenetic analyses in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster revealed that gendered behaviors, including courtship, are underpinned by sexually dimorphic neural circuitries, whose development is directed in a sex-specific manner by transcription factor genes, fruitless (fru) and doublesex (dsx), two core members composing the sex-determination cascade. Via chromatin modification the Fru proteins translated specifically in the male nervous system lead the fru-expressing neurons to take on the male fate, as manifested by their male-specific survival or male-specific neurite formations. One such male-specific neuron group, P1, was shown to be activated when the male taps the female abdomen. Moreover, when artificially activated, P1 neurons are sufficient to induce the entire repertoire of the male courtship ritual. These studies provide a conceptual framework for understanding how the genetic code for innate behavior can be embodied in the neuronal substrate.


fruitless Sexual dimorphism Identified neurons Pheromones Chromatin 









cis-Vaccenyl acetate


Degenerin/epithelial sodium channels




Drosophila transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily A1


Ecdysone receptor


Excitatory postsynaptic potentials




Gustatory receptor


Histone deacetylase 1


Heterochromatin protein 1


Ionotropic receptor 84a


Medially located just above the antennal lobe


Olfactory receptor 67d


ATP-activated P2X purinoceptor 2




Suboesophageal ganglion


Transcription intermediary factor 1


Tetanus toxin light chain





The authors’ work is funded by Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (24113502, 23220007, 1802012 to D.Y., 25132702 and 24700309 to K.S. and 24570082 and 23115702 to M.K.) from MEXT, the Strategic Japanese-French Cooperative Program from JST (D.Y.) and a Life Science Grant from the Takeda Science Foundation (D.Y. and K.S.). The authors thank M. Suyama and S. Abe for secretarial assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daisuke Yamamoto
    • 1
  • Kosei Sato
    • 1
  • Masayuki Koganezawa
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of NeurogeneticsTohoku University Graduate School of Life SciencesSendaiJapan

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