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Optogenetic Control of Serotonin and Dopamine Release in Drosophila Larvae

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journal contribution
posted on 2015-12-17, 03:53 authored by Ning Xiao, Eve Privman, B. Jill Venton
Optogenetic control of neurotransmitter release is an elegant method to investigate neurobiological mechanisms with millisecond precision and cell type-specific resolution. Channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2) can be expressed in specific neurons, and blue light used to activate those neurons. Previously, in Drosophila, neurotransmitter release and uptake have been studied after continuous optical illumination. In this study, we investigated the effects of pulsed optical stimulation trains on serotonin or dopamine release in larval ventral nerve cords. In larvae with ChR2 expressed in serotonergic neurons, low-frequency stimulations produced a distinct, steady-state response while high-frequency patterns were peak shaped. Evoked serotonin release increased with increasing stimulation frequency and then plateaued. The steady-state response and the frequency dependence disappeared after administering the uptake inhibitor fluoxetine, indicating that uptake plays a significant role in regulating the extracellular serotonin concentration. Pulsed stimulations were also used to evoke dopamine release in flies expressing ChR2 in dopaminergic neurons and similar frequency dependence was observed. Release due to pulsed optical stimulations was modeled to determine the uptake kinetics. For serotonin, Vmax was 0.54 ± 0.07 μM/s and Km was 0.61 ± 0.04 μM; and for dopamine, Vmax was 0.12 ± 0.03 μM/s and Km was 0.45 ± 0.13 μM. The amount of serotonin released per stimulation pulse was 4.4 ± 1.0 nM, and the amount of dopamine was 1.6 ± 0.3 nM. Thus, pulsed optical stimulations can be used to mimic neuronal firing patterns and will allow Drosophila to be used as a model system for studying mechanisms underlying neurotransmission.

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