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Publications of the Week

Neural Coding of Leg Proprioception in Drosophila

By October 26, 2018No Comments

Animals rely on an internal sense of body position and movement to effectively control motor behavior. This sense of proprioception is mediated by diverse populations of mechanosensory neurons distributed throughout the body. Here, we investigate neural coding of leg proprioception in Drosophila, using in vivo two-photon calcium imaging of proprioceptive sensory neurons during controlled movements of the fly tibia. We found that the axons of leg proprioceptors are organized into distinct functional projections that contain topographic representations of specific kinematic features. Using subclass-specific genetic driver lines, we show that one group of axons encodes tibia position (flexion/extension), another encodes movement direction, and a third encodes bidirectional movement and vibration frequency. Overall, our findings reveal how proprioceptive stimuli from a single leg joint are encoded by a diverse population of sensory neurons, and provide a framework for understanding how proprioceptive feedback signals are used by motor circuits to coordinate the body