• Cell-selective modulation of the Drosophila neuromuscular system by a neuropeptide

      Ormerod, Kiel G.; Krans, Jacob L.; Mercier, Joffre (2015-03)
      Neuropeptides can modulate physiological properties of neurons in a cell-specific manner. The present work examines whether a neuropeptide can also modulate muscle tissue in a cell-specific manner, using identified muscle cells in third instar larvae of fruit flies. DPKQDFMRFa, a modulatory peptide in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, has been shown to enhance transmitter release from motor neurons and to elicit contractions by a direct effect on muscle cells. We report that DPKQDFMRFa causes a nifedipine-sensitive drop in input resistance in some muscle cells (6 and 7) but not others (12 and 13). The peptide also increased the amplitude of nerve-evoked contractions and compound excitatory junctional potentials (EJPs) to a greater degree in muscle cells 6 and 7 than 12 and 13. Knocking down FMRFa receptor (FR) expression separately in nerve and muscle indicate that both presynaptic and postsynaptic FR expression contributed to the enhanced contractions, but EJP enhancement was due mainly to presynaptic expression. Muscle-ablation showed that DPKQDFMRFa induced contractions and enhanced nerve-evoked contractions more strongly in muscle cells 6 and 7 than cells 12 and 13. In situ hybridization indicated that FR expression was significantly greater in muscle cells 6 and 7 than 12 and 13. Taken together, these results indicate that DPKQDFMRFa can elicit cell-selective effects on muscle fibres. The ability of neuropeptides to work in a cell-selective manner on neurons and muscle cells may help explain why so many peptides are encoded in invertebrate and vertebrate genomes.