Chromatin-based reprogramming of a courtship regulator by concurrent pheromone perception and hormone signaling

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Science Advances  22 May 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 21, eaba6913
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aba6913


To increase fitness, animals use both internal and external states to coordinate reproductive behaviors. The molecular mechanisms underlying this coordination remain unknown. Here, we focused on pheromone-sensing Drosophila Or47b neurons, which exhibit age- and social experience–dependent increase in pheromone responses and courtship advantage in males. FruitlessM (FruM), a master regulator of male courtship behaviors, drives the effects of social experience and age on Or47b neuron responses and function. We show that simultaneous exposure to social experience and age-specific juvenile hormone (JH) induces chromatin-based reprogramming of fruM expression in Or47b neurons. Group housing and JH signaling increase fruM expression in Or47b neurons and active chromatin marks at fruM promoter. Conversely, social isolation or loss of JH signaling decreases fruM expression and increases repressive marks around fruM promoter. Our results suggest that fruM promoter integrates coincident hormone and pheromone signals driving chromatin-based changes in expression and ultimately neuronal and behavioral plasticity.

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