Mechanisms of olfactory receptor neuron specification in Drosophila.
Detection of a broad range of chemosensory signals is necessary for the survival of multicellular organisms. Chemical signals are the main facilitators of foraging, escape, and social behaviors. To increase detection coverage, animal sensory systems have evolved to create a large number of neurons with highly specific functions. The olfactory system, much like the nervous system as a whole, is astonishingly diverse. The mouse olfactory system has millions of neurons with over a thousand classes, whereas the more compact Drosophila genome has approximately 80 odorant receptor genes that give rise to 50 neuronal classes and 1300 neurons in the adult.(4) Understanding how neuronal diversity is generated remains one of the central questions in developmental neurobiology. Here, we review the current knowledge on the development of the adult Drosophila olfactory system and the progress that has been made toward answering this central question.
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