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Sun, F., Wang, Y., Zhou, Y., Van Swinderen, B., Gong, Z., Liu, L. (2014). Identification of neurons responsible for feeding behavior in the Drosophila brain.  Sci. China Life Sci. 57(4): 391--402.
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Drosophila melanogaster feeds mainly on rotten fruits, which contain many kinds of sugar. Thus, the sense of sweet taste has evolved to serve as a dominant regulator and driver of feeding behavior. Although several sugar receptors have been described, it remains poorly understood how the sensory input is transformed into an appetitive behavior. Here, we used a neural silencing approach to screen brain circuits, and identified neurons labeled by three Gal4 lines that modulate Drosophila feeding behavior. These three Gal4 lines labeled neurons mainly in the suboesophageal ganglia (SOG), which is considered to be the fly's primary taste center. When we blocked the activity of these neurons, flies decreased their sugar consumption significantly. In contrast, activation of these neurons resulted in enhanced feeding behavior and increased food consumption not only towards sugar, but to an array of food sources. Moreover, upon neuronal activation, the flies demonstrated feeding behavior even in the absence of food, which suggests that neuronal activation can replace food as a stimulus for feeding behavior. These findings indicate that these Gal4-labeled neurons, which function downstream of sensory neurons and regulate feeding behavior towards different food sources is necessary in Drosophila feeding control.

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    Sci. China Life Sci.
    Science China. Life sciences
    1674-7305 1869-1889
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