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Neural architecture of the primary gustatory center of Drosophila melanogaster visualized with GAL4 and LexA enhancer-trap systems.

Gustatory information is essential for animals to select edible foods and avoid poisons. Whereas mammals detect tastants with their taste receptor cells, which convey gustatory signals to the brain indirectly via the taste sensory neurons, insect gustatory receptor neurons (GRNs) send their axons directly to the primary gustatory center in the suboesophageal ganglion (SOG). In spite of this relatively simple architecture, the precise structure of the insect primary gustatory center has not been revealed in enough detail. To obtain comprehensive anatomical knowledge about this brain area, we screened the Drosophila melanogaster GAL4 enhancer-trap strains that visualize specific subsets of the gustatory neurons as well as putative mechanosensory neurons associated with the taste pegs. Terminals of these neurons form three branches in the SOG. To map the positions of their arborization areas precisely, we screened newly established LexA::VP16 enhancer-trap strains and obtained a driver line that labels a large subset of peripheral sensory neurons. By double-labeling specific and landmark neurons with GAL4 and LexA strains, we were able to distinguish 11 zones in the primary gustatory center, among which 5 zones were identified newly in this study. Arborization areas of various known GRNs on the labellum, oesophagus, and legs were also mapped in this framework. The putative mechanosensory neurons terminate exclusively in three zones of these areas, supporting the notion of segregated primary centers that are specialized for chemosensory and mechanosensory signals associated with gustatory sensation.

Pubmed ID: 20878781 RIS Download

Mesh terms: Animals | Animals, Genetically Modified | Brain | Drosophila Proteins | Drosophila melanogaster | Enhancer Elements, Genetic | Female | Humans | Receptors, Cell Surface | Recombinant Fusion Proteins | Repressor Proteins | Taste | Transcription Factors

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