How does sensory experience mediate FruitlessM and DoublesexM expression in the fly brain?

In Drosophila melanogaster, the genes Fruitless (Fru) and Doublesex  (Dsx) control sex specific sexual behavior and experience-dependent sexual behavior, respectively. Additionally, mutants of the male form of Fruitless (FruM) and flies in isolation show a lapse in sexual behavior, indicating that experience has effects on courtship behavior. However, it is unknown how experience modulates the expression of these genes, and how this modulation effects future decision making and behavior in flies. Therefore, we asked how does sensory experience mediate FruitlessM and DoublesexM expression in the brain? To answer this, we placed flies in either a group housed environment or social isolation for five days and then dissected their heads. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) and later ChIP-qPCR were performed to examine gene regulatory differences and endogenous enrichment, respectively, in RNA Polymerase II and H3K27ac. Our data suggests that with social isolation, the transcription of FruM and DsxM decreases, specifically in Fru and Dsx connected circuits. We believe this effect is circuit specific because enrichment in controls, Choline acetyl transferase (+) and Gustatory receptor 5a (-), are insignificant. Thus, our data suggests that sensory experience plays a role in future sexual behavior in flies and may contribute to neuroplasticity in the fly brain.

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