Presynaptic impairment of synaptic transmission in Drosophila embryos lacking Gsα

Dongmei Hou, Kazuhiro Suzuki, William J. Wolfgang, Catherine Clay, Michael Forte, Yoshiaki Kidokoro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Gsα is a subunit of the heterotrimeric G-protein complex, expressed ubiquitously in all types of cells, including neurons. Drosophila larvae, which have mutations in the Gsα gene, are lethargic, suggesting an impairment of neuronal functions. In this study, we examined synaptic transmission at the neuromuscular synapse in Gsα-null (dgsR60) embryos shortly before they hatched. At low-frequency nerve stimulation, synaptic transmission in mutant embryos was not very different from that in controls. In contrast, facilitation during tetanic stimulation was minimal in dgsR60, and no post-tetanic potentiation was observed. Miniature synaptic currents (mSCs) were slightly smaller in amplitude and less frequent in dgsR60 embryos in normal-K+ saline. In high-K+ saline, mSCs with distinctly large amplitude occurred frequently in controls at late embryonic stages, whereas those mSCs were rarely observed in dgsR60 embryos, suggesting a developmental defect in the mutant. Using the Gal4-UAS expression system, we found that these phenotypes in dgsR60 were caused predominantly by lack of Gsα in presynaptic neurons and not in postsynaptic muscles. To test whether Gsα couples presynaptic modulator receptors to adenylyl cyclase (AC), we examined the responses of two known G-protein-coupled receptors in dgsR60 embryos. Both metabotropic glutamate and octopamine receptor responses were indistinguishable from those of controls, indicating that these receptors are not linked to AC by Gsα. We therefore suggest that synaptic transmission is compromised in dgsR60 embryos because of presynaptic defects in two distinct processes; one is uncoupling between the yet-to-be-known modulator receptor and AC activation, and the other is a defect in synapse formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5897-5905
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 1 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Drosophila
  • Gsα
  • Metabotropic glutamate receptor
  • Neuromuscular junction
  • Octopamine receptor
  • Synaptic transmission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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