Genome-Wide Association Analyses Point to Candidate Genes for Electric Shock Avoidance in Drosophila melanogaster.
ABSTRACT: Electric shock is a common stimulus for nociception-research and the most widely used reinforcement in aversive associative learning experiments. Yet, nothing is known about the mechanisms it recruits at the periphery. To help fill this gap, we undertook a genome-wide association analysis using 38 inbred Drosophila melanogaster strains, which avoided shock to varying extents. We identified 514 genes whose expression levels and/ or sequences co-varied with shock avoidance scores. We independently scrutinized 14 of these genes using mutants, validating the effect of 7 of them on shock avoidance. This emphasizes the value of our candidate gene list as a guide for follow-up research. In addition, by integrating our association results with external protein-protein interaction data we obtained a shock avoidance-associated network of 38 genes. Both this network and the original candidate list contained a substantial number of genes that affect mechanosensory bristles, which are hair-like organs distributed across the fly's body. These results may point to a potential role for mechanosensory bristles in shock sensation. Thus, we not only provide a first list of candidate genes for shock avoidance, but also point to an interesting new hypothesis on nociceptive mechanisms.
Project description:Mechanoreceptors are sensory cells that transduce mechanical stimuli into electrical signals and mediate the perception of sound, touch and acceleration. Ciliated mechanoreceptors possess an elaborate microtubule cytoskeleton that facilitates the coupling of external forces to the transduction apparatus. In a screen for genes preferentially expressed in Drosophila campaniform mechanoreceptors, we identified DCX-EMAP, a unique member of the EMAP family (echinoderm-microtubule-associated proteins) that contains two doublecortin domains. DCX-EMAP localizes to the tubular body in campaniform receptors and to the ciliary dilation in chordotonal mechanoreceptors in Johnston's organ, the fly's auditory organ. Adult flies carrying a piggyBac insertion in the DCX-EMAP gene are uncoordinated and deaf and display loss of mechanosensory transduction and amplification. Electron microscopy of mutant sensilla reveals loss of electron-dense materials within the microtubule cytoskeleton in the tubular body and ciliary dilation. Our results establish a catalogue of candidate genes for Drosophila mechanosensation and show that one candidate, DCX-EMAP, is likely to be required for mechanosensory transduction and amplification.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>A TRPN channel protein is essential for sensory transduction in insect mechanosensory neurons and in vertebrate hair cells. The Drosophila TRPN homolog, NOMPC, is required to generate mechanoreceptor potentials and currents in tactile bristles. NOMPC is also required, together with a TRPV channel, for transduction by chordotonal neurons of the fly's antennal ear, but the TRPN or TRPV channels have distinct roles in transduction and in regulating active antennal mechanics. The evidence suggests that NOMPC is a primary mechanotransducer channel, but its subcellular location-key for understanding its exact role in transduction-has not yet been established.<h4>Methodology/principal findings</h4>Here, by immunostaining, we locate NOMPC at the tips of mechanosensory cilia in both external and chordotonal sensory neurons, as predicted for a mechanotransducer channel. In chordotonal neurons, the TRPN and TRPV channels are respectively segregated into distal and proximal ciliary zones. This zonal separation is demarcated by and requires the ciliary dilation, an intraciliary assembly of intraflagellar transport (IFT) proteins.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Our results provide a strong evidence for NOMPC as a primary transduction channel in Drosophila mechansensory organs. The data also reveals a structural basis for the model of auditory chordotonal transduction in which the TRPN and TRPV channels play sequential roles in generating and amplifying the receptor potential, but have opposing roles in regulating active ciliary motility.
Project description:In the adult abdomen of Drosophila, the shafts of mechanosensory bristles point consistently from anterior to posterior. This is an example of planar cell polarity (PCP); some genes responsible for PCP have been identified. Each adult bristle is made by a clone of four cells, including the neuron that innervates it, but little is known as to how far the formation or positions of these cells depends on PCP. The neurons include a single dendrite and an axon; it is not known whether the orientation of these processes is influenced by PCP.We describe the development of the abdominal mechanosensory bristles in detail. The division of the precursor cell gives two daughters, one (pIIa) divides to give rise to the bristle shaft and socket cell and the other (pIIb) generates the neuron, the sheath and the fifth cell. Although the bristles and their associated shaft and socket cells are consistently oriented, the positioning and behaviour of the neuron, the sheath and the fifth cell, as well as the orientation of the axons and the dendritic paths, depend on location. For example, in the anterior zone of the segment, the axons grow posteriorly, while in the posterior zone, they grow anteriorly. Manipulating the PCP genes can reverse bristle orientation, change the path taken by the dendrite and the position of the cell body of the neuron. However, the paths taken by the axon are not affected.PCP genes, such as starry night and dachsous orient the bristles and position the neuronal cell body and affect the shape of the dendrites. However, these PCP genes do not appear to change the paths followed by the sensory axons, which must, therefore, be polarised by other factors.
Project description:To uncover novel molecules involved in taste detection, we performed a microarray-based screen for genes enriched in taste neurons. Proboscis RNA from flies homozygous for a recessive poxn null mutation was compared to RNA from heterozygous controls. Poxn mutants have a transformation of labellar gustatory chemosensory bristles into mechanosensory bristles and therefore lack most or all taste neurons. Overall design: Proboscises of poxn70 homozygous mutant and poxn70 heterozygous mutant males (8-18 days post eclosure) were dissected, and total RNA was harvested in Trizol according to standard trizol protocol. Samples for each microarray were prepared from 164-280 proboscises. We performed 3 biological replicates for each genotype.
Project description:To uncover novel molecules involved in taste detection, we performed a microarray-based screen for genes enriched in taste neurons. Proboscis RNA from flies homozygous for a recessive poxn null mutation was compared to RNA from heterozygous controls. Poxn mutants have a transformation of labellar gustatory chemosensory bristles into mechanosensory bristles and therefore lack most or all taste neurons. Experiment Overall Design: Proboscises of poxn70 homozygous mutant and poxn70 heterozygous mutant males (8-18 days post eclosure) were dissected, and total RNA was harvested in Trizol according to standard trizol protocol. Samples for each microarray were prepared from 164-280 proboscises. We performed 3 biological replicates for each genotype.
Project description:miR-263a/b are members of a conserved family of microRNAs that are expressed in peripheral sense organs across the animal kingdom. Here we present evidence that miR-263a and miR-263b play a role in protecting Drosophila mechanosensory bristles from apoptosis by down-regulating the pro-apoptotic gene head involution defective. Both microRNAs are expressed in the bristle progenitors, and despite a difference in their seed sequence, they share this key common target. In miR-263a and miR-263b deletion mutants, loss of bristles appears to be sporadic, suggesting that the role of the microRNAs may be to ensure robustness of the patterning process by promoting survival of these functionally specified cells. In the context of the retina, this mechanism ensures that the interommatidial bristles are protected during the developmentally programmed wave of cell death that prunes excess cells in order to refine the pattern of the pupal retina.
Project description:The abdomen of adult Drosophila bears mechanosensory bristles with axons that connect directly to the CNS, each hemisegment contributing a separate nerve bundle. Here, we alter the amount of Engrailed protein and manipulate the Hedgehog signalling pathway in clones of cells to study their effects on nerve pathfinding within the peripheral nervous system. We find that high levels of Engrailed make the epidermal cells inhospitable to bristle neurons; sensory axons that are too near these cells are either deflected or fail to extend properly or at all. We then searched for the engrailed-dependent agent responsible for these repellent properties. We found slit to be expressed in the P compartment and, using genetic mosaics, present evidence that Slit is the responsible molecule. Blocking the activity of the three Robo genes (putative receptors for Slit) with RNAi supported this hypothesis. We conclude that, during normal development, gradients of Slit protein repel axons away from compartment boundaries - in consequence, the bristles from each segment send their nerves to the CNS in separated sets.
Project description:A variety of mechanosensory neurons are involved in touch, proprioception and pain. Many molecular components of the mechanotransduction machinery subserving these sensory modalities remain to be discovered. Here, we combined recordings of mechanosensitive (MS) currents in mechanosensory neurons with single cell RNA sequencing. In silico analysis of collected data combined with a previous large-scale dataset allowed to link the four identified kinetically distinct MS current subtypes to transcriptomically defined populations of DRG neurons. Moreover, gene expression differential comparison provided a list of candidate genes for mechanotransduction complexes. This dataset constitutes an open-resource to explore further the cell-type-specific determinants of mechanosensory properties. Overall design: scRNAseq of mechano-phenotyped DRG neurons using patch-clamp experiments
Project description:Subcellular asymmetry directed by the planar cell polarity (PCP) signaling pathway orients numerous morphogenetic events in both invertebrates and vertebrates. Here, we describe a morphogenetic movement in which the intertwined socket and shaft cells of the Drosophila anterior wing margin mechanosensory bristles undergo PCP-directed apical rotation, inducing twisting that results in a helical structure of defined chirality. We show that the Frizzled/Vang PCP signaling module coordinates polarity among and between bristles and surrounding cells to direct this rotation. Furthermore, we show that dynamic interplay between two isoforms of the Prickle protein determines right- or left-handed bristle morphogenesis. We provide evidence that, Frizzled/Vang signaling couples to the Fat/Dachsous PCP directional signal in opposite directions depending on whether Pkpk or Pksple predominates. Dynamic interplay between Pk isoforms is likely to be an important determinant of PCP outcomes in diverse contexts. Similar mechanisms may orient other lateralizing morphogenetic processes.
Project description:Biological sensory organelles are often structurally optimized for high sensitivity. Tactile hairs or bristles are ubiquitous mechanosensory organelles in insects. The bristle features a tapering spine that not only serves as a lever arm to promote signal transduction, but also a clever design to protect it from mechanical breaking. A hierarchical distribution over the body further improves the signal detection from all directions. We mimic these features by using synthetic zinc oxide microparticles, each having spherically-distributed, high-aspect-ratio, and high-density nanostructured spines resembling biological bristles. Sensors based on thin films assembled from these microparticles achieve static-pressure detection down to 0.015?Pa, sensitivity up to 121 kPa<sup>-1</sup>, and a strain gauge factor >10<sup>4</sup>, showing supreme overall performance. Other properties including a robust cyclability >2000, fast response time ~7?ms, and low-temperature synthesis compatible to various integrations further indicate the potential of this sensor technology in applying to wearable technologies and human interfaces.