5-HT stimulation of heart rate in Drosophila does not act through cAMP as revealed by pharmacogenetics

Zana R. Majeed, Charles D. Nichols, Robin L. Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, is a good experimental organism to study the underlying mechanism of heart rate (HR) regulation. It is already known that many neuromodulators (serotonin, dopamine, octopamine, acetylcholine) change the HR in Drosophila melanogaster larvae. In this study, we investigated the role of cAMP-PKA signaling pathway in HR regulation and 5-HT positive chronotropic action. In order to obtain insight into the 5-HT mechanism of action in larvae cardiomyocytes, genetic and pharmacological approaches were used. We used transgenic flies that expressed the hM4Di receptor [designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs (DREADDs)] as one tool. Our previous results showed that activation of hM4Di receptors (modified muscarinic acetylcholine receptors) decreases or arrests the heart from beating. In this study, it was hypothesized that the positive chronotropic effect of serotonin [5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT)] are mediated by serotonin receptors coupled to the adenylyl cyclase pathway and downstream cAMP and PKA activity. Activation of hM4Di by clozapine-N-oxide (CNO) was predicted to block the effects of serotonin by inhibiting adenylyl cyclase activity through Gαi pathway activation. Interestingly, we found here that manipulation of adenylyl cyclase activity and cAMP levels had no significant effect on HR. The ability of hM4Di receptor activation to slow or stop the heart is therefore likely mediated by activation of GIRK channels to produce hyperpolarization of cardiomyocytes, and not through inhibition of adenylyl cyclase.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1656-1665
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Dec 1 2013


  • 5-HT
  • Adenylyl cyclase
  • CNO
  • M4D receptor
  • PKA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (all)


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