The serotonin 5-HT7Dro receptor is expressed in the brain of Drosophila, and is essential for normal courtship and mating.
The 5-HT(7) receptor remains one of the less well characterized serotonin receptors. Although it has been demonstrated to be involved in the regulation of mood, sleep, and circadian rhythms, as well as relaxation of vascular smooth muscles in mammals, the precise mechanisms underlying these functions remain largely unknown. The fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, is an attractive model organism to study neuropharmacological, molecular, and behavioral processes that are largely conserved with mammals. Drosophila express a homolog of the mammalian 5-HT(7) receptor, as well as homologs for the mammalian 5-HT(1A), and 5-HT(2), receptors. Each fly receptor couples to the same effector pathway as their mammalian counterpart and have been demonstrated to mediate similar behavioral responses. Here, we report on the expression and function of the 5-HT(7)Dro receptor in Drosophila. In the larval central nervous system, expression is detected postsynaptically in discreet cells and neuronal circuits. In the adult brain there is strong expression in all large-field R neurons that innervate the ellipsoid body, as well as in a small group of cells that cluster with the PDF-positive LNvs neurons that mediate circadian activity. Following both pharmacological and genetic approaches, we have found that 5-HT(7)Dro activity is essential for normal courtship and mating behaviors in the fly, where it appears to mediate levels of interest in both males and females. This is the first reported evidence of direct involvement of a particular serotonin receptor subtype in courtship and mating in the fly.