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Genes Brain Behav. 2018 Oct 22:e12529. doi: 10.1111/gbb.12529. [Epub ahead of print]

The receptor channel formed by ppk25, ppk29 and ppk23 can sense the Drosophila female pheromone 7,11-heptacosadiene.

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Institute of Neuroscience, State Key Laboratory of Neuroscience, Center for Excellence in Brain Science and Intelligence Technology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China.
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China.
School of life sciences, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China.


In Drosophila, pheromones play a crucial role in regulating courtship behaviors. In males, female aphrodisiac pheromones promote male-female courtship, and male antiaphrodisiac pheromones inhibit male-male courtship. Previous studies have reported that receptor proteins belonging to the pickpocket (ppk) family, ionotropic receptor family and gustatory receptor family are required for pheromone detection and normal courtship. However, none of them has been shown to be sufficient for sensing pheromones after ectopic expression in originally unresponsive cells. "M" cells are activated by male antiaphrodisiac pheromones but not female aphrodisiac pheromones, and the activated cells inhibit male-male courtship. In our study, male flies with ectopic expression of ppk25, ppk29 and ppk23 in "M" cells showed decreased male-female courtship. Using an in vivo calcium imaging approach, we found that the "M" cells expressing these three ppks were significantly activated by the female aphrodisiac pheromone 7,11-heptacosadiene (7,11-HD). Our results indicate that a sodium channel consisting, at minimum, of ppk25, ppk29 and ppk23, can sense 7,11-HD, most likely as a receptor. Our findings may help us gain insights into the molecular mechanisms of pheromonal functions.


7,11-HD; Drosophila; female pheromone; gustatory receptor; male courtship; pheromone receptor; ppk; ppk23; ppk25; ppk29


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