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J Neurobiol. 2002 Feb 15;50(3):221-33.

Targeted expression of tetanus neurotoxin interferes with behavioral responses to sensory input in Drosophila.

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Institut für Genetik und Neurobiologie, Biozentrum, Universität Würzburg, Am Hubland, 97074 Würzburg, Germany.


Targeted inactivation of neurons by expression of toxic gene products is a useful tool to assign behavioral functions to specific neurons or brain structures. Of a variety of toxic gene products tested, tetanus neurotoxin light chain (TNT) has the least severe side effects and can completely block chemical synapses. By using the GAL4 system to drive TNT expression in a subset of chemo- and mechanosensory neurons, we detected walking and flight defects consistent with blocking of relevant sensory information. We also found, for the first time, an olfactory behavioral phenotype associated with blocking of a specific subset of antennal chemoreceptors. Similar behavioral experiments with GAL4 lines expressing in different subsets of antennal chemoreceptors should contribute to an understanding of olfactory coding in Drosophila. To increase the utility of the GAL4 system for such purposes, we have designed an inducible system that allows us to circumvent lethality caused by TNT expression during early development.

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