MicroRNA-276a functions in ellipsoid body and mushroom body neurons for naive and conditioned olfactory avoidance in Drosophila.
Li W., Cressy M., Qin H., Fulga T., Van Vactor D., Dubnau J.
MicroRNA (miRNA)-mediated gene regulation plays a key role in brain development and function. But there are few cases in which the roles of individual miRNAs have been elucidated in behaving animals. We report a miR-276a::DopR regulatory module in Drosophila that functions in distinct circuits for naive odor responses and conditioned odor memory. Drosophila olfactory aversive memory involves convergence of the odors (conditioned stimulus) and the electric shock (unconditioned stimulus) in mushroom body (MB) neurons. Dopamine receptor DopR mediates the unconditioned stimulus inputs onto MB. Distinct dopaminergic neurons also innervate ellipsoid body (EB), where DopR function modulates arousal to external stimuli. We demonstrate that miR-276a is required in MB neurons for memory formation and in EB for naive responses to odors. Both roles of miR-276a are mediated by tuning DopR expression. The dual role of this miR-276a::DopR genetic module in these two neural circuits highlights the importance of miRNA-mediated gene regulation within distinct circuits underlying both naive behavioral responses and memory.