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PLoS Genet. 2013;9(9):e1003710. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1003710. Epub 2013 Sep 12.

Drosophila fatty acid taste signals through the PLC pathway in sugar-sensing neurons.

Author information

1
Department of Biology, University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada, United States of America.

Abstract

Taste is the primary sensory system for detecting food quality and palatability. Drosophila detects five distinct taste modalities that include sweet, bitter, salt, water, and the taste of carbonation. Of these, sweet-sensing neurons appear to have utility for the detection of nutritionally rich food while bitter-sensing neurons signal toxicity and confer repulsion. Growing evidence in mammals suggests that taste for fatty acids (FAs) signals the presence of dietary lipids and promotes feeding. While flies appear to be attracted to fatty acids, the neural basis for fatty acid detection and attraction are unclear. Here, we demonstrate that a range of FAs are detected by the fly gustatory system and elicit a robust feeding response. Flies lacking olfactory organs respond robustly to FAs, confirming that FA attraction is mediated through the gustatory system. Furthermore, flies detect FAs independent of pH, suggesting the molecular basis for FA taste is not due to acidity. We show that low and medium concentrations of FAs serve as an appetitive signal and they are detected exclusively through the same subset of neurons that sense appetitive sweet substances, including most sugars. In mammals, taste perception of sweet and bitter substances is dependent on phospholipase C (PLC) signaling in specialized taste buds. We find that flies mutant for norpA, a Drosophila ortholog of PLC, fail to respond to FAs. Intriguingly, norpA mutants respond normally to other tastants, including sucrose and yeast. The defect of norpA mutants can be rescued by selectively restoring norpA expression in sweet-sensing neurons, corroborating that FAs signal through sweet-sensing neurons, and suggesting PLC signaling in the gustatory system is specifically involved in FA taste. Taken together, these findings reveal that PLC function in Drosophila sweet-sensing neurons is a conserved molecular signaling pathway that confers attraction to fatty acids.

PMID:
24068941
PMCID:
PMC3772025
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pgen.1003710
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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