Serotonin receptor 5-HT7 in Drosophila mushroom body neurons mediates larval appetitive olfactory learning

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Serotonin (5-HT) and dopamine are critical neuromodulators known to regulate a range of behaviors in invertebrates and mammals, such as learning and memory. Effects of both serotonin and dopamine are mediated largely through their downstream G-protein coupled receptors through cAMP-PKA signaling. While the role of dopamine in olfactory learning in Drosophila is well described, the function of serotonin and its downstream receptors on Drosophila olfactory learning remain largely unexplored. In this study we show that the output of serotonergic neurons, possibly through points of synaptic contacts on the mushroom body (MB), is essential for training during olfactory associative learning in Drosophila larvae. Additionally, we demonstrate that the regulation of olfactory associative learning by serotonin is mediated by its downstream receptor (d5-HT7) in a cAMP-dependent manner. We show that d5-HT7 expression specifically in the MB, an anatomical structure essential for olfactory learning in Drosophila, is critical for olfactory associative learning. Importantly our work shows that spatio-temporal restriction of d5-HT7 expression to the MB is sufficient to rescue olfactory learning deficits in a d5-HT7 null larvae. In summary, our results establish a critical, and previously unknown, role of d5-HT7 in olfactory learning.