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Pankova, Katarina and Borst, Alexander (2016): RNA-Seq Transcriptome Analysis of Direction-Selective T4/T5 Neurons in Drosophila.
In: PLOS ONE 11(9), e0163986 [PDF, 1MB]

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Neuronal computation underlying detection of visual motion has been studied for more than a half-century. In Drosophila, direction-selective T4/T5 neurons show supralinear signal amplification in response to stimuli moving in their preferred direction, in agreement with the prediction made by the Hassenstein-Reichardt detector. Nevertheless, the molecular mechanism explaining how the Hassenstein-Reichardt model is implemented in T4/T5 cells has not been identified yet. In the present study, we utilized cell type-specific transcriptome profiling with RNA-seq to obtain a complete gene expression profile of T4/T5 neurons. We analyzed the expression of genes that affect neuronal computational properties and can underlie the molecular implementation of the core features of the Hassenstein-Reichardt model to the dendrites of T4/T5 neurons. Furthermore, we used the acquired RNA-seq data to examine the neurotransmitter system used by T4/T5 neurons. Surprisingly, we observed co-expression of the cholinergic markers and the vesicular GABA transporter in T4/T5 neurons. We verified the previously undetected expression of vesicular GABA transporter in T4/T5 cells using VGAT-LexA knock-in line. The provided gene expression dataset can serve as a useful source for studying the properties of direction-selective T4/T5 neurons on the molecular level.

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