Regulation of coordinated muscular relaxation in Drosophila larvae by a pattern-regulating intersegmental circuit.
Typical patterned movements in animals are achieved through combinations of contraction and delayed relaxation of groups of muscles. However, how intersegmentally coordinated patterns of muscular relaxation are regulated by the neural circuits remains poorly understood. Here, we identify Canon, a class of higher-order premotor interneurons, that regulates muscular relaxation during backward locomotion of Drosophila larvae. Canon neurons are cholinergic interneurons present in each abdominal neuromere and show wave-like activity during fictive backward locomotion. Optogenetic activation of Canon neurons induces relaxation of body wall muscles, whereas inhibition of these neurons disrupts timely muscle relaxation. Canon neurons provide excitatory outputs to inhibitory premotor interneurons. Canon neurons also connect with each other to form an intersegmental circuit and regulate their own wave-like activities. Thus, our results demonstrate how coordinated muscle relaxation can be realized by an intersegmental circuit that regulates its own patterned activity and sequentially terminates motor activities along the anterior-posterior axis.
Funder: Howard Hughes Medical Institute