An expression atlas of chemosensory ionotropic glutamate receptors identifies a molecular basis of carbonation detection

Juan Antonio Sánchez-Alcañiz, Ana Florencia Silbering, Vincent Croset, Giovanna Zappia, Anantha Krishna Sivasubramaniam, Liliane Abuin, Saumya Yashmohini Sahai, Thomas O. Auer, Steeve Cruchet, G. Larisa Neagu-Maier, Simon G. Sprecher, Nilay Yapici and Richard Benton

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Received: 8th March 18

Taste perception is thought to involve the encoding of appetitive and aversive chemical cues in food through a limited number of sensory pathways. Through expression analysis of the complete repertoire of Drosophila Ionotropic Receptors (IRs), a sensory subfamily of ionotropic glutamate receptors, we reveal that the majority of IRs is expressed in diverse peripheral neuron populations across gustatory organs in both larvae and adults, implying numerous roles in taste-evoked behaviours. We characterise Ir56d, which labels two anatomically-distinct classes of neurons in the proboscis: one represents a subset of sugar- and fatty acid-sensing neurons, while the other responds to carbonated solutions and fatty acids. Mutational analysis shows that IR56d, together with the broadly-expressed co-receptors IR25a and IR76b, is essential for physiological activation by carbonation and fatty acids, but not sucrose. We further demonstrate that carbonation is behaviourally attractive to flies (in an IR56d-dependent manner), but in a distinct way to other appetitive stimuli. Our work provides a valuable toolkit for investigating the taste functions of IRs, defines a molecular basis of carbonation sensing, and illustrates how the gustatory system uses combinatorial expression of sensory receptors in distinct neuron types to coordinate behaviour.

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