The D1 family dopamine receptor, DopR, potentiates hind leg grooming behavior in Drosophila

Drosophila groom away debris and pathogens from the body using their legs in a stereotyped sequence of innate motor behaviors. Here, we investigated one aspect of the grooming repertoire by characterizing the D1 family dopamine receptor, DopR. Removal of DopR results in decreased hind leg grooming, as substantiated by quantitation of dye remaining on mutant and RNAi animals vs. controls and direct scoring of behavioral events. These data are also supported by pharmacological results that D1 receptor agonists fail to potentiate grooming behaviors in headless DopR flies. DopR protein is broadly expressed in the neuropil of the thoracic ganglion and overlaps with TH-positive dopaminergic neurons. Broad neuronal expression of dopamine receptor in mutant animals restored normal grooming behaviors. These data provide evidence for the role of DopR in potentiating hind leg grooming behaviors in the thoracic ganglion of adult Drosophila. This is a remarkable juxtaposition to the considerable role of D1 family dopamine receptors in rodent grooming, and future investigations of evolutionary relationships of circuitry may be warranted.

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