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Mol Brain. 2012 Oct 29;5:39. doi: 10.1186/1756-6606-5-39.

Control of directional change after mechanical stimulation in Drosophila.

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McGill Centre for Research in Neuroscience, McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.



Proper adjustment of moving direction after external mechanical stimulation is essential for animals to avoid danger (e.g. predators), and thus is vital for survival. This process involves sensory inputs, central processing and motor outputs. Recent studies have made considerable progress in identifying mechanosensitive neurons and mechanosensation receptor proteins. Our understandings of molecular and cellular mechanisms that link mechanosensation with the changes in moving direction, however, remain limited.


In this study, we investigate the control of movement adjustment in Drosophila. In response to gentle touch at the anterior segments, Drosophila larvae reorient and select a new direction for forward movement. The extent of change in moving direction is correlated with the intensity of tactile stimuli. Sensation of gentle touch requires chordotonal organs and class IV da neurons. Genetic analysis indicates an important role for the evolutionarily conserved immunoglobulin (Ig) superfamily protein Turtle (Tutl) to regulate touch-initiated directional change. Tutl is required specifically in post-mitotic neurons at larval stage after the completion of embryonic development. Circuit breaking analysis identified a small subset of Tutl-positive neurons that are involved in the adjustment of moving direction.


We identify Tutl and a small subset of CNS neurons in modulating directional change in response to gentle touch. This study presents an excellent starting point for further dissection of molecular and cellular mechanisms controlling directional adjustment after mechanical stimulation.

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