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Moscato, E.H., Dubowy, C., Walker, J.A., Kayser, M.S. (2020). Social Behavioral Deficits with Loss of Neurofibromin Emerge from Peripheral Chemosensory Neuron Dysfunction.  Cell Rep. 32(1): 107856.
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Research paper

Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is a neurodevelopmental disorder associated with social and communicative disabilities. The cellular and circuit mechanisms by which loss of neurofibromin 1 (Nf1) results in social deficits are unknown. Here, we identify social behavioral dysregulation with Nf1 loss in Drosophila. These deficits map to primary dysfunction of a group of peripheral sensory neurons. Nf1 regulation of Ras signaling in adult ppk23+ chemosensory cells is required for normal social behaviors in flies. Loss of Nf1 attenuates ppk23+ neuronal activity in response to pheromones, and circuit-specific manipulation of Nf1 expression or neuronal activity in ppk23+ neurons rescues social deficits. This disrupted sensory processing gives rise to persistent changes in behavior beyond the social interaction, indicating a sustained effect of an acute sensory misperception. Together our data identify a specific circuit mechanism through which Nf1 regulates social behaviors and suggest social deficits in NF1 arise from propagation of sensory misinformation.

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PMC7416787 (PMC) (EuropePMC)
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    Cell Rep.
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