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Nat Commun. 2016 Feb 19;7:10678. doi: 10.1038/ncomms10678.

Functional dissociation in sweet taste receptor neurons between and within taste organs of Drosophila.

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Graduate School of Life Sciences, Tohoku University, Katahira 2-1-1, Miyagi, Sendai 980-8577, Japan.
Max-Planck Institut für Neurobiologie, D-82152 Martinsried, Germany.
Graduate School of Information Sciences, Tohoku University, Aramaki Aza Aoba 6-6-01, Aoba-Ku, Sendai 980-8579, Japan.
Department of Complexity Science and Engineering, Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, The University of Tokyo, 5-1-5 Kashiwanoha, Kashiwa-shi, Chiba-ken 277-8561, Japan.


Finding food sources is essential for survival. Insects detect nutrients with external taste receptor neurons. Drosophila possesses multiple taste organs that are distributed throughout its body. However, the role of different taste organs in feeding remains poorly understood. By blocking subsets of sweet taste receptor neurons, we show that receptor neurons in the legs are required for immediate sugar choice. Furthermore, we identify two anatomically distinct classes of sweet taste receptor neurons in the leg. The axonal projections of one class terminate in the thoracic ganglia, whereas the other projects directly to the brain. These two classes are functionally distinct: the brain-projecting neurons are involved in feeding initiation, whereas the thoracic ganglia-projecting neurons play a role in sugar-dependent suppression of locomotion. Distinct receptor neurons for the same taste quality may coordinate early appetitive responses, taking advantage of the legs as the first appendages to contact food.

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