Visualization of Synapses and Synaptic Plasticity in the Drosophila Brain
Drosophila represents a favorable model organism to analyze neuronal circuits underlying behavior. This is mainly due to the versatile genetic tools by which transgene expression can be targeted to virtually any neuronal population in the brain. Fluorescent sensor proteins enable one to monitor the physiological parameters correlating with the function of neurons, and a number of actuator proteins exist that can be used to selectively manipulate distinct neurons. However, the mode of operation of neuronal circuits for determining behavior is not only based on a static connectivity between neurons, but also on the physiological properties of synaptic transmission and their plasticity. Techniques to detect many synapses at high resolution across many neurons in vivo and to access their physiology and plasticity are required. Here, we summarize recent genetic approaches to visualize synapses and to analyze synaptic plasticity in the Drosophila brain.
KeywordsDrosophila Synapses Synaptic plasticity GRASP Optical imaging Neuronal circuits Behavioral analysis
This work was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (SFB 889/B04) and the German Ministry of Research and Education via the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience Göttingen (01GQ1005A). We are grateful to Robert J. Kittel for helpful comments on the manuscript.
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