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Mating elicits profound behavioral and physiological changes in many species that are crucial for reproductive success. After copulation, Drosophila melanogaster females reduce their sexual receptivity and increase egg laying [1, 2]. Transfer of male sex peptide (SP) during copulation mediates these postmating responses [1, 3-6] via SP sensory neurons in the uterus defined by coexpression of the proprioceptive neuronal marker pickpocket (ppk) and the sex-determination genes doublesex (dsx) and fruitless (fru) [7-9]. Although neurons expressing dsx downstream of SP signaling have been shown to regulate postmating behaviors [9], how the female nervous system coordinates the change from pre- to postcopulatory states is unknown. Here, we show a role of the neuromodulator octopamine (OA) in the female postmating response. Lack of OA disrupts postmating responses in mated females, while increase of OA induces postmating responses in virgin females. Using a novel dsx(FLP) allele, we uncovered dsx neuronal elements associated with OA signaling involved in modulation of postmating responses. We identified a small subset of sexually dimorphic OA/dsx(+) neurons (approximately nine cells in females) in the abdominal ganglion. Our results are consistent with a model whereby OA neuronal signaling increases after copulation, which in turn modulates changes in female behavior and physiology in response to reproductive state.

Original publication




Journal article


Curr Biol

Publication Date





725 - 730


Animals, Drosophila, Drosophila Proteins, Female, Molecular Sequence Data, Octopamine, Sex Characteristics, Sexual Behavior, Animal