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J Neurosci. 2003 Oct 29;23(30):9906-12.

Targeted mutation of a Drosophila odor receptor defines receptor requirement in a novel class of sensillum.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology and Center for Basic Neuroscience, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas 75390-9111, USA.


In vertebrates, individual olfactory neurons are thought to express a single odorant receptor (Or) gene, but it is not clear that all odor-evoked activity in each neuron is exclusively dependent on an individual odorant receptor. In Drosophila, little is known about what receptors impart odor sensitivity to particular olfactory neurons. Here, we demonstrate the use of gene targeting to produce a null mutant of the putative odorant receptor Or43b and find that the mutant is defective for odor-evoked activity in ab8A neurons, a single functional class of olfactory neurons in Drosophila. ab8A neurons lacking Or43b are still present in the mutants and display spontaneous activity but are insensitive to odor stimulation. Therefore, Or43b is required for odor responsiveness in these olfactory neurons in vivo. Or83b, a receptor expressed in a large fraction of olfactory neurons including Or43b neurons, does not confer odor responsiveness in the absence of Or43b. Olfactory behavior elicited by odorants that activate the ab8A neurons is indistinguishable between Or43b mutants and controls, demonstrating a surprising degree of functional redundancy among the limited odor receptor repertoire in this species. These studies demonstrate that a reverse genetic approach can be used to correlate specific olfactory receptors with odor specificity of functional classes of olfactory neurons.

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