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J Exp Biol. 1991 May;157:161-81.

The shaker and shaking-B genes specify elements in the processing of gustatory information in Drosophila melanogaster.

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Molecular Biology Unit, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bombay, India.


Mutations that affect the physiological properties of neurones or the development of neuronal circuits are likely to have profound effects on sensory and motor pathways. We have examined the effects of mutations in two loci--the Shaker complex and shaking-B-on the taste pathway of Drosophila melanogaster Meigen at the behavioural and electrophysiological levels. The Shaker locus encodes a variety of A-type potassium channels that are likely to be tissue- and stage-specific. Flies containing the different Shaker alleles examined exhibit a variety of defects in their gustatory responses to sucrose, NaCl and KCl. The firing patterns of the labellar chemosensory neurones in response to these stimuli are normal. This suggests that the channels encoded by the Shaker locus are probably not involved in taste transduction, but affect central gustatory circuits. The shaking-B locus affects neuronal connectivity, though its molecular nature is unknown. Mutants at this locus show increased thresholds for detection of sucrose and fructose and lack the attraction response to 0.1 mol l-1 sodium chloride that is exhibited by the wild-type fly.

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