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Genetics. 2002 Aug;161(4):1507-16.

The DSC1 channel, encoded by the smi60E locus, contributes to odor-guided behavior in Drosophila melanogaster.

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The W. M. Keck Center for Behavioral Biology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695, USA.


Previously, we generated P-element insert lines in Drosophila melanogaster with impaired olfactory behavior. One of these smell-impaired (smi) mutants, smi60E, contains a P[lArB] transposon in the second intron of the dsc1 gene near a nested gene encoding the L41 ribosomal protein. The dsc1 gene encodes an ion channel of unknown function homologous to the paralytic (para) sodium channel, which mediates neuronal excitability. Complementation tests between the smi60E mutant and several EP insert lines map the smell-impaired phenotype to the P[lArB] insertion site. Wild-type behavior is restored upon P-element excision. Evidence that reduction in DSC1 rather than in L41 expression is responsible for the smell-impaired phenotype comes from a phenotypic revertant in which imprecise P-element excision restores the DSC1 message while further reducing L41 expression. Behavioral assays show that a threefold decrease in DSC1 mRNA is accompanied by a threefold shift in the dose response for avoidance of the repellent odorant, benzaldehyde, toward higher odorant concentrations. In situ hybridization reveals widespread expression of the dsc1 gene in the major olfactory organs, the third antennal segment and the maxillary palps, and in the CNS. These results indicate that the DSC1 channel contributes to processing of olfactory information during the olfactory avoidance response.

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