In fish, amino acids are food-related important olfactory cues to elicit an attractive response. However, the neural circuit underlying this olfactory behavior is not fully elucidated. In the present study, we applied the Tol2 transposon-mediated gene trap method to dissect the zebrafish olfactory system genetically. Four zebrafish lines (SAGFF27A, SAGFF91B, SAGFF179A, and SAGFF228C) were established in which the modified transcription activator Gal4FF was expressed in distinct subsets of olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs). The OSNs in individual lines projected axons to partially overlapping but mostly different glomeruli in the olfactory bulb (OB). In SAGFF27A, Gal4FF was expressed predominantly in microvillous OSNs innervating the lateral glomerular cluster that corresponded to the amino acid-responsive region in the OB. To clarify the olfactory neural pathway mediating the feeding behavior, we genetically expressed tetanus neurotoxin in the Gal4FF lines to block synaptic transmission in distinct populations of glomeruli and examined their behavioral response to amino acids. The attractive response to amino acids was abolished only in SAGFF27A fish carrying the tetanus neurotoxin transgene. These findings clearly demonstrate the functional significance of the microvillous OSNs innervating the lateral glomerular cluster in the amino acid-mediated feeding behavior of zebrafish. Thus, the integrated approach combining genetic, neuroanatomical, and behavioral methods enables us to elucidate the neural circuit mechanism underlying various olfactory behaviors in adult zebrafish.
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