A neurogenetic mechanism of experience-dependent suppression of aggression [article]

Kenichi Ishii, Matteo Cortese, Xubo Leng, Maxim Shokhirev, Kenta Asahina
2020 bioRxiv   pre-print
Aggression is an ethologically important social behavior but excessive aggression can be detrimental to animal fitness. Social experiences among conspecific individuals reduce aggression in a wide range of animals4. However, the genetic and neural basis for the experience-dependent suppression of aggression remains largely unknown. Here we found that nervy (nvy), a Drosophila homolog of vertebrate myeloid translocation gene (MTG) involved in transcriptional regulation, suppresses aggression via
more » ... sses aggression via its action in a specific subset of neurons. Loss-of-function mutation of the nvy gene resulted in hyper-aggressiveness only in socially experienced flies, whereas overexpression of nvy suppressed spontaneous aggression in socially naïve flies. The loss-of-function nvy mutant exhibited persistent aggression under various contexts in which wild-type flies transition to escape or courtship behaviors. Knockdown of nvy in octopaminergic/tyraminergic (OA/TA) neurons increased aggression, phenocopying the nvy mutation. We found that a subpopulation of OA/TA cells specifically labeled by nvy is required for the social-experience-dependent suppression of aggression. Moreover, cell-type-specific transcriptomics on nvy-expressing OA/TA neurons revealed aggression-controlling genes that are likely downstream of nvy. Our results are the first to describe the presence of a specific neuronal subpopulation in the central brain that actively suppresses aggression in a social-experience-dependent manner, illuminating the underlying genetic mechanism.
doi:10.1101/2020.06.26.172890 fatcat:t5tzodxis5dnlfuz4p4ig4olkm