Evidence accumulating over the past 15 years soundly refutes the dogma that the Drosophila nervous system is hardwired. The preponderance of studies reveals activity-dependent neural circuit refinement driving optimization of behavioral outputs. We describe developmental, sensory input-dependent plasticity in the brain olfactory antennal lobe, which we term long-term central adaption (LTCA). LTCA is evoked by prolonged exposure to an odorant during the first week of posteclosion life, resulting in a persistently decreased response to aversive odors and an enhanced response to attractive odors. This limited window of early-use, experience-dependent plasticity represents a critical period of olfactory circuit refinement tuned by initial sensory input. Consequent behavioral adaptations have been associated with changes in the output of olfactory projection neurons to higher brain centers. Recent studies have indicated a central role for local interneuron signaling in LTCA presentation. Genetic and molecular analyses have implicated the mRNA-binding fragile X mental retardation protein and ataxin-2 regulators, Notch trans-synaptic signaling, and cAMP signal transduction as core regulatory steps driving LTCA. In this article, we discuss the structural, functional, and behavioral changes associated with LTCA and review our current understanding of the molecular pathways underlying these developmental, experience-dependent changes in the olfactory circuitry.
Copyright © 2016 the American Physiological Society.