Two chemosensory receptors together mediate carbon dioxide detection in Drosophila.
Blood-feeding insects, including the malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae, use highly specialized and sensitive olfactory systems to locate their hosts. This is accomplished by detecting and following plumes of volatile host emissions, which include carbon dioxide (CO2). CO2 is sensed by a population of olfactory sensory neurons in the maxillary palps of mosquitoes and in the antennae of the more genetically tractable fruitfly, Drosophila melanogaster. The molecular identity of the chemosensory CO2 receptor, however, remains unknown. Here we report that CO2-responsive neurons in Drosophila co-express a pair of chemosensory receptors, Gr21a and Gr63a, at both larval and adult life stages. We identify mosquito homologues of Gr21a and Gr63a, GPRGR22 and GPRGR24, and show that these are co-expressed in A. gambiae maxillary palps. We show that Gr21a and Gr63a together are sufficient for olfactory CO2-chemosensation in Drosophila. Ectopic expression of Gr21a and Gr63a together confers CO2 sensitivity on CO2-insensitive olfactory neurons, but neither gustatory receptor alone has this function. Mutant flies lacking Gr63a lose both electrophysiological and behavioural responses to CO2. Knowledge of the molecular identity of the insect olfactory CO2 receptors may spur the development of novel mosquito control strategies designed to take advantage of this unique and critical olfactory pathway. This in turn could bolster the worldwide fight against malaria and other insect-borne diseases.
Jones, WD; Cayirlioglu, P; Kadow, IG; Vosshall, LB
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
Pubmed Central ID
Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)